Reviews for Boy Who Dared
Booklist Reviews 2008 February #2
*Starred Review* In Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow, Booklist's 2005 Top of the List for youth nonfiction, 2005, Bartoletti included a portrait of Helmuth Hübener, a German teenager executed for his resistance to the Nazis. In this fictionalized biography, she imagines his story as he sits in prison awaiting execution in 1942 and remembers his childhood in Hamburg during Hitler's rise to power. Beaten and tortured to name his friends, he remembers how he started off an ardent Nazi follower and then began to question his patriotism, secretly listened to BBC radio broadcasts, and finally dared to write and distribute pamphlets calling for resistance. The teen's perspective makes this a particularly gripping way to personalize the history, and even those unfamiliar with the background Bartoletti weaves in-the German bitterness after World War I, the burning of the books, the raging anti-Semitism--will be enthralled by the story of one boy's heroic resistance in the worst of times. A lengthy author's note distinguishes fact from fiction, and Bartoletti provides a detailed chronology, a bibliography, and many black-and-white photos of Helmuth with friends, family, and members of his Mormon church. This is an important title for the Holocaust curriculum. See the Booklist interview with Bartoletti, in which she discusses how this teen's story moved her. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2008 January #2
Spun off from interviews with survivors as well as published sources, Bartoletti crafts a novel closely based on the true story of Helmuth Hübener, a German teen who stood up to the Nazis and paid with his life. Written in present-tense flashbacks, the tale traces the development of Helmuth's outlook from childhood delight in playing with toy soldiers within the safe confines of his closely knit Mormon family to ill-concealed fury as Hitler's rise brings mounting violence against Jews, suppression of books and foreign news and a general climate of fear and mistrust. He resorts at last to anonymous pamphleteering, and his eventual capture brings imprisonment, beatings and a trial at which he manages to save two of his friends from death penalties. A long author's note and a suite of photos cap this inspiring tale of conscience and courage. Pair it with Bartoletti's Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler's Shadow (2005). (Historical fiction. 11-13) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 February #2
Returning to material she uncovered while researching Hitler Youth , Bartoletti offers a fictionalized biography of Helmuth Hbener, a Hamburg teenager who, in February 1942, was arrested for writing and distributing leaflets that denounced Hitler. Almost nine months later, on October 27, at the age of 17, Hbener was executed for treason. Opening her story on Hbener's last day, Bartoletti frames the work as third-person flashbacks, casting over the narrative a terrible sense of doom even as she escalates the tension. She does an excellent job of conveying the political climate surrounding Hitler's ascent to power, seamlessly integrating a complex range of socioeconomic conditions into her absorbing drama of Helmuth and his fatherless family. The author also convincingly shows how Helmuth originally embraces Hitler. His disillusionment seems to come a little too easily; American readers may wonder why Helmuth's reactions were not more common. But that question resolves itself as the author exposes the chilling gap between her own admiration for her subject and reflections, discussed in an afterword, from those who knew Helmuth, as in this comment from his older brother: "He should have known better than that.... A sixteen-year-old boy cannot change the government." Ages 11-up. (Feb.) [Page 70]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2008 May
Gr 6-9-- In the newly formed Third Reich, Hitler's initial political doctrine is filled with hopeful solutions for a country plagued with unemployment, poverty, and a post-World War I feeling of defeat. Propaganda and promises quickly turn to oppressive new laws including the required participation in the Hitler Youth. Helmuth Hbener enters the program and is at once impressed with the bravado, shiny uniforms, boots, and patriotic fever sweeping the country. But his Mormon-based teachings trigger questions in his mind about the reality behind the regime's invasions of neighboring countries, mistreatment of Jewish citizens, and closely controlled media. He creates an underground newsletter with information gathered from BBC reports using an illegal shortwave radio. As he secretly distributes the flyers throughout the town, his boldness encourages him to gather several accomplices resulting in his arrest, trial, and execution. The novel opens as he is on death row, and the story is told as a series of flashbacks. Helmuth is portrayed as a brave, outspoken voice amid a family of acquiescing brothers, mother, and new SS stepfather. Based on a real person, the novel includes black-and-white photos of Hbener and his family. Bartoletti offers another perspective on the Holocaust, demonstrating that even if the effort proves unsuccessful, the courage and convictions of a minority should be motivation to speak the truth rather than remain silent. It's a message that must be continually emphasized as a lasting legacy of the Holocaust.--Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI [Page 119]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2008 April
Teenagers familiar with Holocaust literature probably know that homosexuals, committed Christians, and gypsies suffered along with Jews. That adherents of the Mormon faith were also discriminated against may come as news. Bartoletti's fictionalized recounting of the life of Helmuth Huebener serves as an exemplar and a stirring tale of one young man's resistance to a government he came to regard as evil. As a child, Huebener was enthralled with the Nazi regime. His mother, despite her faith, was a staunch supporter of Hitler, and his brothers were obedient army men. His mother eventually married a member of the SS, and it was in his stepfather's unquestioning acceptance of the party line that Heubener began to question Nazi actions. His resolve to resist was hardened when his brother brought home a short-wave radio, allowing the teenager to listen to BBC broadcasts. Bartoletti makes Helmuth's growth from support of the Nazi agenda, to tacit acceptance, and to active resistance completely believable. The character development, based on research and interviews with those who knew Helmuth, is solid, and the author excels in creating a sense of immediacy in the setting. Her Nazi Germany is a place that is hauntingly familiar, enveloped in a government-fed sense of fear in this welcome addition to a body of literature begun with Anne Frank's diary.-Ann Welton Photos. Maps. Biblio. Source Notes. Further Reading. Chronology. 3Q 3P M J S Copyright 2008 Voya Reviews.