The Cranky Old Reader

I'm a Goodreads refugee, looking for a new home. Old books for children, science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, and humor are my main areas of interest. I've little interest in books that were written after 1975 or so, and prefer books that are older still. There are, however, a few still-living authors that I respect.

Snow Treasure

Snow Treasure - Marie McSwigan I loved this book when I was a boy. It really captured my imagination, and stayed there. Nor was I the only one; I know several others who also loved that book. That's not too surprising; it was very popular in schools when I was young, and there were a lot of copies floating around.I read it once a year or so until I was in my late teens. Some time in my 20s I picked up a copy, but eventually it ended up in a box down in my basement; it's still there, if it hasn't disintegrated.But I never forgot it. And when my son and I went on a shopping spree in a wonderful old used-book shop* last weekend, the title came back to my mind. So I asked if they had it. They didn't think they did, but it turned out there was a copy in good condition still on their shelves. Naturally I grabbed it!(This, incidentally, is why Amazon.com will never replace the experience of browsing in a good used-book shop.)My son and I are still reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and he's also reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books on his own, so I decided to re-read Snow Treasure on my own, first.It's the story of Norwegian children during the Nazi occupation. According to the back cover, it's a true story; I believed that when I was young. Lately I did a little research, and discovered that there's some doubt about the truth of that claim. It seems likely that many if not all of the details were from the imagination of the author, possibly based on a story from a Norwegian ship captain at the time. It's also necessary to note that the book was first published in 1942; an element of propoganda seems inevitable, under the circumstances. Which doesn't necessarily mean that the book is entirely or even substantially false, of course.But on reflection, it doesn't matter. It's a cracking good story; some of the language is a bit old-fashioned, yes, and the story itself is on the simplistic side. So what? This is a book for children! And the story of how children in Norway help to smuggle Norway's gold away from the invading Nazis makes for a memorable, exciting tale.I'll admit, as I re-read the few few chapters I did fear that it might turn out to be worse than my memory of it. It reads well, but is a little dated. However the pace and excitement are maintained beautifully, and in the final chapters I found myself honestly caught up in it again - and impressed by the sheer excitement of the story. Time dropped away, and I was ten years old again.What more could you ask from a book?---------* - The Shire Book Shop in Franklin, MA; it's the largest used-book shop I know of outside of The Strand in New York city.P.S. - if you enjoyed Snow Treasure, you might also enjoy Lars and Lisa in Sweden; it's slightly post-WWII, and is set in Sweden rather than Norway, but the tone and cultural elements are quite similar. It's very rare, though, so good luck finding it!

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