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Children's Literature Reviews
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For freedom : the story of a French spy
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.
Publisher description
Sample text
New York, N.Y. : Delacorte Press/Random House Children's Books, c2003.
181 p. ; 22 cm.


Despite the horrors of World War II, a French teenager pursues her dream of becoming an opera singer, which takes her to places where she gains information about what the Nazis are doing--information that the French Resistance needs.

Best Books:

Amelia Bloomer List, 2004 ; ALA Social Responsiblities Round Table (SRRT); United States
Best Children's Books of the Year, 2004 ; Bank Street College of Education; United States
Booklist Book Review Stars, Apr. 1, 2003 ; American Library Association; United States
Booklist Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth, 2003 ; American Library Association; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, May 1, 2003 ; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Eighth Edition, 2004 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Teachers' Choices , 2004 ; International Reading Association; United States
Young Adults' Choices , 2005 ; International Reading Association; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Mark Twain Award, 2006 Third Place Missouri

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Beehive Book Award, 2004-2005 ; Nominee; Young Adult; Utah
Charlie May Simon Children's Book Award, 2005-2006 ; Nominee; Grades 4-6; Arkansas
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award, 2004-2005 ; Nominee; Grades 4-8; Vermont
Maine Student Book Award, 2004-2005 ; Nominee; Maine
Mark Twain Award, 2005-2006 ; Nominee; Grades 4-8; Missouri
Nutmeg Children's Book Award, 2007 ; Nominee; Grades 7-8; Connecticut
Sequoyah Book Award, 2006 ; Nominee; Young Adult; Oklahoma
South Carolina Junior Book Award, 2005-2006 ; Nominee; South Carolina
Young Hoosier Book Award, 2007-2008 ; Nominee; Middle Grades; Indiana

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader" "
Interest Level Upper Grade" "
Book Level 4" "
Accelerated Reader Points 5" "
Accelerated Vocabulary" "

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
Lexile Measure 520

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 5
Title Point Value 10
Lexile Measure 520


Roger Leslie (Booklist, Apr. 1, 2003 (Vol. 99, No. 15))
Teenage Suzanne David is so focused on her dreams of becoming an opera star that she barely notices the growing Nazi presence in her French hometown of Cherbourg, until an air raid in 1940 literally puts the death and devastation at her feet. Her innocent appearance, iron will, and schedule as a singer-performer attract the attention of a local Resistance leader, who recruits her to become a spy and entrusts her to transport encoded Allied messages. Based on interviews with the real Suzanne David (who married an American soldier in 1945 and moved to Tennessee), this taut, engrossing World War II novel instantly immerses readers in the horrors faced by everyday citizens during the Nazi Occupation. The real focus, however, is the skin-crawling suspense story about one of France's youngest spies. Each chapter brings new intrigue and often shocking revelations, made all the more intense by the facts about codes and disguises and the fast-paced, first-person narration. There aren't many accounts for young readers about the French Resistance, and from setup to conclusion, this one resonates with authenticity, excitement, and heart. The teenage hero who must keep her spying a secret, even from her parents, will thrill historical fiction fans. Category: Books for Older Readers--Fiction. 2003, Delacorte, $15.95, $17.99. Gr. 6-12. Starred Review

Joan Kindig, Ph.D. (Children's Literature)
Suzanne is 13 years old when she and a friend witness a bomb drop in their hometown of Cherbourg, France. Based on a true WWII story, it unfolds from the time Suzanne is 13 until the end of the war when she is just 18 years old. Suzanne's family was not Jewish so this is not a book of the Holocaust. Instead, it is a story of what war does to a country and how deep pride in one's nation can run. It is also about standing up for what is right and being willing to risk your life for the cause. Suzanne is a fledgling opera singer whose mobility makes her useful to the French Resistance. Suzanne becomes a spy and risks her life delivering messages that ultimately culminate in the D-Day invasion. The story is a wonderful, true-life adventure that features a smart and very brave young girl. It is a nice addition to WWII literature and a marvelous read. 2003, Delacorte Press, $15.95. Ages 10 to 14.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2003 (Vol. 71, No. 9))
Suzanne David's father always said, "Obey the rules and no one gets hurt." But when their French town of Cherbourg is bombed, her neighbor is killed, the Nazis take over, and her family is turned out of their house, whose rules does she obey? When one of the few black families in Cherbourg disappears, Suzanne says to her Papa, "I thought Hitler only hated Jews. I didn't know he hated black people too." "Now you do," he replies. It is this growing awareness, step by step, that leads to Suzanne's involvement in the French Resistance, becoming number 22, and relaying messages essential to the planning of the D-Day invasion. Based on Bradley's interviews with the real Suzanne, this is an exciting account of a girl's coming of age in a scary time. The historical context is neatly woven into the story, so readers will learn about Dunkirk, the fall of Paris, Vichy France, Charles de Gaulle, and D-Day. A terrific companion to Gregory Maguire's The Good Liar, but for an older audience. 2003, Delacorte, $15.95. Category: Fiction. Ages 10 to 14. Starred Review. © 2003 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Claire Rosser (KLIATT Review, May 2003 (Vol. 37, No. 3))
Bradley has written fiction based closely on the life of Suzanne David Hall, who shared her stories with the author. The novel begins in 1940 when Suzanne is 13 and it ends when the Allies liberate her town of Cherbourg, France in June 1944. Suzanne is studying to be an opera singer, and as soon as she finishes school when she is 15, she starts working in the local opera company, singing the leading roles. She naturally has a lot of appointments around town and in nearby towns, and her doctor recruits her as a spy, carrying messages in the midst of the Nazi occupation. She knows that if she is caught, she will be killed. The strength and discipline she needs for her career help her in the work as a spy. Details of her family life under the occupation, her singing career, the solace she finds in music during utmost stress--these details make the story a reality for the reader. Therefore, the fear she experiences working as a spy, the lies she must tell to her family and friends to cover her activities, and the suspense inherent in the story make this a thrilling reading experience. We are filled with admiration for Suzanne's strength and commitment. Frequent French expressions and details from the operas and their arias make this novel even more exotic for American YAs. The town of Cherbourg is laid out in the readers' minds--from the first scenes of Germans bombing the beach at the time of the British troops retreating in 1940 to the liberation of the town on D-Day. In an epilogue, we learn that Suzanne married an American soldier at the end of 1945 and immigrated to America, where she raised her family in Tennessee. A powerful story. Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: JS*--Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Random House/Delacorte, 181p., $15.95. Ages 12 to 18.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Based on a true story, Bradley's (Ruthie's Gift) gripping, high-stakes adventure about a French girl who joins the Resistance during WW II offers insight into a young spy's sacrifices and bravery. When the Germans begin to occupy France, 13-year-old Suzanne, who narrates, focuses more on her dreams of singing professionally than on the war she thinks could never hurt her. She tries to follow her pragmatic father's repeated admonition, "Obey the rules and no one gets hurt." But her views change when a bombing leaves her best friend mute from trauma, German soldiers seize her family's home and she realizes "sometimes people disappeared." Family relationships and the intensely personal price of war prove more strongly sketched than Suzanne's love of music, even though it is the travel occasioned by Suzanne's growing success in the opera that makes her useful to the Resistance. Bradley effectively portrays the initial allure when the family doctor recruits Suzanne, then 16, as "number twenty-two" (names would be too dangerous to use), and then gradually tarnishes that glamour to reveal the heavy burden, isolation and imminent danger. While one or two touches seem forced (particularly when Suzanne is betrayed), the details and the tone have the ring of authenticity. A highly compelling look at the covert battle for freedom. Ages 10-14. (May)"

Karen Coats (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July 2003 (Vol. 56, No. 11))
In this historical novel set in Cherbourg, France, Bradley provides a fictionalized account of the true story of Suzanne David, a young French opera singer whose work as a spy for the Allies was instrumental in the success of the 1944 Normandy invasion. After a grisly narrative hook, wherein thirteen-year-old Suzanne witnesses the mangling of her neighbor--including the woman’s decapitation and a fetus ripped from her womb--during a bomb raid on the beach, the story settles into the constant suspense, fear, and tension of living in an occupied city. Suzanne continues to pursue her career as an opera singer despite the war, and she begins to perform around the city, finally realizing her ultimate dream of singing the role of Carmen in Paris. When her doctor realizes the freedom of movement she enjoys, he enlists her help in the dangerous work of carrying messages. Over three years, she delivers countless messages to an ever-decreasing number of fellow espionage agents, until one day she too is betrayed. The subject matter is naturally involving, and the juxtaposition of Suzanne’s successes as a singer and as a spy moves this gripping narrative along at a firm clip. Characterization is thoughtful enough to add interest, with Suzanne feeling romantic or heroic on the stage but alarmingly clumsy and obvious as a spy, a realistic emotional detail that contributes to the tension of the story. Add this to Number the Stars to show another face of the heroic resistance of young people during the war. Review Code: R -- Recommended. (c) Copyright 2003, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2003, Delacorte, 181p, $17.99 and $15.95. Grades 6-9.

Chris Carlson (VOYA, June 2003 (Vol. 26, No. 2))
A member of the local opera company in Cherbourg, France, Suzanne is sixteen years old when she becomes a spy for the French Resistance. Only her voice teacher and the local doctor who recruited her for the task know that she is passing messages that will aid the Allies of World War II. As the war progresses and as she becomes more adept at hiding and delivering the messages, the danger of discovery increases. Finally arrested for questioning, Suzanne finds herself free the next day, June 6, 1944, as the Germans rush to defend themselves against the D-Day invasion. Centering on Suzanne's life from the age of thirteen to seventeen and her relationships with friends and family, this riveting adventure, based on a true story, is peppered with memorable teen characters who bring events to life. Indelible images-beaches littered with broken bodies after bombing runs; houses stripped of furniture and valuables, defaced by German troops; the struggle to subsist on rationed food-and the teens' reactions to the horrible events make occupied France come alive for readers. Characters' voices resonate with the struggle to deal with the war's effects on their lives and futures. Suzanne's resolve to work against the Nazi invaders comes after she and her family suffer abuse at their hands. Her resolve and courage should strike a chord with teens who understand how difficult, yet how empowering, it is to help in changing things for the better. This novel is historical fiction with sure appeal for young adults. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Delacorte, 102p, $15.95. Ages 11 to 18.


World War, 1939-1945--France Juvenile fiction.
World War, 1939-1945--France Fiction.
World War, 1939-1945--Underground movements--France Fiction.
Singing Fiction.
Spies Fiction.
France--History--German occupation, 1940-1945--Juvenile fiction.
France--History--German occupation, 1940-1945 Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.B7247 Fo 2003
2002013057 [Fic]
0385729618 (trade)
0385900872 (GLB)
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