Read The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip M. Hoose Online


At the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation's leaders, fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to take action against the Nazis if the adults would not. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countlessAt the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation's leaders, fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to take action against the Nazis if the adults would not. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countless acts of sabotage, infuriating the Germans, who eventually had the boys tracked down and arrested. But their efforts were not in vain: the boys' exploits and eventual imprisonment helped spark a full-blown Danish resistance. Interweaving his own narrative with the recollections of Knud himself, here is Phillip Hoose's inspiring story of these young war heroes.This thoroughly-researched and documented book can be worked into multiple aspects of the common core curriculum....

Title : The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club
Author :
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ISBN : 9780374300227
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 198 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club Reviews

  • Ms. Yingling
    2019-05-12 16:14

    E ARC from Netgalley.comIn this wonderful piece of narrative nonfiction, Hoose brings us the experience of Knud Pedersen in his own words. As a Dane, the teenaged Pedersen was perturbed that his government had caved so easily to the Nazis demands, agreeing to cooperate with the Nazi soldiers in exchange for relative safety. While Norway was fighting the Nazis, it took a while before opposition to the Nazis took hold in Denmark, and that opposition was started by a group of teenagers headed by Pedersen. At first, the boys contented themselves with painting graffiti and doing small amounts of damage to Nazi property, but soon escalated to major acts of arson as well as stealing weapons and accumulating quite an arsenal. When the Danish people saw that not everyone was acquiescing to Nazi demands, the Resistance was able to take off. The Churchill Club, as the group called itself, continued to bedevil the Nazis, although the boys found it difficult to think about actually killing the soldiers. Eventually, the group was found out and arrested, and spent a lot of time in various jails. By this point, however, the Resistance was going full force. Luckily for the boys, they were tried by Danish officials and, in part because of their age, were not sentenced to death. Based on intensive interviews with Knudsen, as well as Knudsen's amazing archive of photographs and research, this well-researched book tells a riveting tale of people who stood up for what they believed, even though they were very young. I have always been interested in the various resistance groups, especially since most of them utilized my primary source of transportation-- the bicycle! Since we have been requiring students to read more nonfiction, this is a title I will order eagerly. This was a great length, had amazing primary source information, and was extremely interesting. I am so glad that Hoose followed up on a forgotten e mail with Pedersen, because this was a fantastic book.

  • Josiah
    2019-05-02 19:02

    I can't say if it's mainly a keen eye for selecting stories that have powerful emotional potential, an ability to distill timeless wisdom from the basic facts of history, or his own transcendent talent for dynamically and sensitively recounting historical events so they feel relevant to young readers, but Phillip Hoose is one of the best nonfiction writers whose work I've encountered. When widespread recognition came his way in 2010 after being awarded a Newbery Honor for Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, I was eager to read this author I'd never heard of, and quickly discovered the hype was legitimate. Claudette Colvin was informative, highly suspenseful, and deeply emotional, an exemplary representative of youth nonfiction. We identify with Miss Colvin's plight and feel outraged at the systemic injustice facing her, as immersed in the experience as any good work of fiction. Phillip Hoose was at it again with Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 in 2012, skillfully investing us in the saga of internationally beloved rufa specimen B95, who had already lived several times longer than most rufa birds and was likely still alive and well in the world. The facts are plentiful and accurate, but Mr. Hoose goes beyond textbook talk to the heart of the story: the struggle of an endangered species to continue existing on an earth that isn't always friendly to strange birds, the miracle of biodiversity and the silent tragedy when a creature goes extinct with no possibility of ever gracing our world again. It's a lovely book that demonstrates Phillip Hoose's mastery of juvenile nonfiction. Three years later, we had The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club. Phillip Hoose turns our attention to the fight for freedom in 1940s Europe, as Hitler's dark army swept through Scandinavia and established strongholds in nations too small or pacifist to defend themselves. Norway took up arms against the conquering tide and Sweden managed to bargain a neutrality that Germany grudgingly accepted, but Denmark capitulated to the occupation, offering no resistance to Hitler's coup. What happens when a proud land is overrun by an aggressive foreign entity, and the government goes along to get along? How much abridgment of freedom will we agree to before it's too much? We learn in The Boys Who Challenged Hitler that if the adult generation won't stand up to a bully, the kids will...even if it costs their own freedom.Knud Pedersen was in eighth grade when Hitler's soldiers entered Denmark and declared it a "protectorate" of Germany. Cooperate with their overlords, and the Danes were promised prominence in Hitler's new world order. Resist, and Denmark would be wiped off the map one stubborn citizen at a time. Knud Pedersen watched in disbelief as Denmark's leaders cheerfully handed power over to Hitler, allowing thousands of German troops to settle in and seize control. In nearby Norway, which was also under siege, the populace refused to be mollified, greeting the German invaders with stout resistance every step of the way. The Danes, on the other hand, seemed content—if slightly miffed—by Hitler's hostile takeover. If his elders weren't going to react from a place of national pride like the Norwegians, maybe Knud would have to do something himself. After Knud discussed the matter with his older brother Jens and a group of peers in their hometown of Odense, the young teens founded the Royal Air Force (RAF) Club, named for the courageous British pilots who thwarted Hitler's invasion of Great Britain. Knud's club was devoted to sabotaging the property of German soldiers in and around Odense. The mischief started out small, switching the direction of wooden signs meant to point incoming Nazi soldiers to their barracks, but escalated as Knud's resentment and temerity grew. The RAF Club was an intrepid gang of kids, from tall, lanky Knud Pedersen to the much shorter Knud Hedelund, affectionately called "Little Knud". Biking all over Odense to vandalize Nazi property, usually in the middle of the day when valuable equipment was left unguarded, the RAF Club would strike and then skedaddle before they could be caught. They soon captured the ire of German commanders, who issued rich rewards for their apprehension. Before detectives could close in on the rebel teens, Knud Pedersen's minister father was reassigned to lead a new church in Aalborg, Denmark, headquartered in a huge, drafty building that formerly served as a monastery. Knud's family would have to move. The RAF Club's work in Odense would proceed without the Pedersen brothers, but the two of them weren't finished flaunting Hitler.Aalborg was much larger than Odense and held strategic importance for the Nazis. The Aalborg airport provided a shipping route for weapons materials, a boon for Germany's war effort worldwide. As a result, Aalborg was crawling with Nazi military who wouldn't regard sabotage casually, but Knud and Jens weren't about to follow the example of their servile Danish leaders and give up at the first sign of trouble. Many teens in Aalborg were as livid as the RAF Club members in Odense, and when Knud revealed to them the sabotage he had helped facilitate, his new friends wanted in. They dubbed themselves the Churchill Club in honor of British prime minister Winston Churchill, whose vigorous pushback in defiance of the Führer's daily bombing blitz inspired freedom fighters around the globe. Knud, Jens, and the rest of the Churchill Clubbers—including Mogens "the Professor" Fjellerup, who in ninth grade was already an innovative chemist with a lot to offer the club's weapons department, and Børge Ollendorff, a year younger than the others but a fearless heart who reminded Knud of his old friend in the RAF Club, Little Knud—began methodically striking Nazi properties in Aalborg, defying German or Danish constabulary to catch them. Minor vandalism progressed to stealing weaponry and torching classified papers, and again the attention of those in command swung toward Knud's boys. This time the sabotage took place in Aalborg, however, and the Nazis were prepared to invest serious resources in bringing down the perpetrators. As the Churchill Club shifted focus toward accumulating German weapons to distribute to the Allies if they broke through to liberate Denmark, investigators picked up on telltale patterns of the Churchill Club subversives. With the police drawing near, some Churchill Clubbers grew nervous, unsure about continuing their activities. Eigil Astrup-Frederiksen was foremost among the dissenters. His mother was Jewish, and if Eigil were implicated in the sabotage, his family might be deported to a concentration camp. The consequences for their civil disobedience were becoming dire, yet Knud and most of his friends remained unwilling to suspend the Churchill Club's itinerary. Denmark was no closer to regaining independence than ever. In Knud's opinion they were still cowards compared to Norway, and he was ready to sacrifice his personal freedom to fight for his country. The Churchill Club wasn't reckless, but even soberly considered plans aren't foolproof, and Knud's operation was foiled for good when a waitress recognized him from his forays into her restaurant to riffle through the coats of German soldiers and swipe their sidearms. With Knud in custody, the rest of the Churchill Club was soon ferreted out, and their cache of stolen weapons confiscated. The club's reign was at an end, and horrific times were shortly to be the members' recompense. Try as the Danish government might to frame the teens' actions as youthful ignorance, the presence of German overseers in the courtroom meant the judge couldn't be lenient. The boys were all sentenced to federal prison, except Børge Ollendorff, who was too young. Børge was remanded to a youth correctional facility to serve his relatively light sentence, while Knud and Jens were hit hardest: three years each. The only ones punished more severely were three older peripheral Churchill Club associates, who each received a minimum of four and a half years behind bars. Knud and his friends were able to get away with some things at the Aalborg jail, including sawing out a bar over the window to their cell so they could slip in and out at night, but once they were transferred to Nyborg State Prison, any fantasy that their sentences would be anything but interminable suffering was squashed.They had done what they knew was right, but the Churchill Clubbers had reason to doubt there was any good left for them in life. Yet were they truly less free than the citizens of Aalborg and Odense, oppressed by Naziism in their own country, ruled by a man who was having millions of innocents exterminated for perceived shortcomings of ethnicity, religion, and lifestyle? The Danes lived under a delusion of freedom that Knud and his friends never believed, so further restriction of their personal liberty didn't convince them they had erred. At least they'd fought for their homeland, rather than relinquishing control to Hitler as if they didn't care. But prison was far worse than they imagined. Sequestered by themselves in Nyborg's youth wing but rarely allowed to see one another, the convicted Clubbers were systematically stripped of humanity by the guards. Agonizing boredom and psychological torment vied for preeminence in their heads, and the prisoners coped in a variety of ways. Eigil teetered on the verge of despair, a state exacerbated by not being allowed to share the burden with his fellow convicted patriots. "I missed my mates...The loneliness was very great. In my thoughts I convinced myself that I had done the right thing by taking part in the fight against the Germans. But in the many lonely hours came the doubt anyway, often very insidious. There was no one to talk to besides myself. The light in the cell was turned off at 9 p.m. Many times I lay in my bed and struggled with the temptation to give up, to take a razor blade and slit my wrists to stop the beating of my heart. It would not be discovered until 4 a.m., I told myself." The grief and hopelessness of those words reverberates down through the years, a glimpse of the bleak void that yawned before the Churchill Club teens in every direction. That a kid would be subjected to such torture for defending his nation's honor is deeply disturbing, but the Clubbers endured it mostly without visible support from their fellow Danes, who had done nothing to show Hitler they would not be trampled. Unlike Eigil and some of the others, Knud's anger raged hotter than ever against the Nazis. He disobeyed his jailors every chance he had, hardly caring about his precious few privileges they gleefully revoked in an attempt to keep him in check. He hated the Germans and would not cooperate with them to the end.Release came for every Churchill Club teen eventually, but they struggled to fit back into a society still under Nazi dominion. Denmark remained under the Führer's lead thumb, and Knud was no more tolerant of this than before his incarceration. While the Churchill Club stayed disbanded, Knud searched for ways to join the resistance, but found that rebels were hesitant to collaborate with a high-profile anti-Nazi personality. Knud did ultimately find his niche, helping stash and transfer weapons from one secret location to another, and though there were close calls that jeopardized his freedom, he was never arrested. On May 4, 1945, Knud Pedersen's readiness to sacrifice himself and everything he had for his homeland was validated by the news that Germany had surrendered to the Allies. The Nazi juggernaut that seemed invincible a couple years earlier had been demolished, and liberated Danes flooded the streets in emotional celebration. Just reading about it in this book brings tears to one's eyes, the fulfillment of years of hoping for a better fate for their homeland than being absorbed forever by Hitler's war machine, the permanent loss of a national history rich in artistic genius and world-class storytelling. It took a long time, but Danish patriotism had come alive even before Germany surrendered, and the bold actions of the Churchill Club were a big part of what inspired them. If a gaggle of teens could stand up to Hitler, why couldn't all of Denmark? It was no coincidence that acts of sabotage had been on the rise many times over while Knud and the boys languished at Nyborg State Prison. When the opportunity to meet Winston Churchill was offered Knud and his cohorts after the war, Knud's identity as an insurrectionist—which had once led law-abiding Danes to look at him askance—became his greatest source of pride: he was Knud Pedersen, Member of the Churchill Club, and that could never change. A boy who loved his country and refused to watch it die grew into a hero for all time.It's hard to pinpoint what I love most about Phillip Hoose's nonfiction. It feels like fiction in some ways, with a compelling variety of likable and despicable characters who come to life on the page as if Mr. Hoose were a brilliant novelist with a flair for creating memorable characters. But they're all real people, and the effective characterization derives from the author's talent for framing the narrative using his own superb writing and vibrant quotes from his subjects, quotes that push the story forward with emotional power and immediacy. I love "Little Knud" Hedelund and Børge Ollendorff, was fascinated by the scientific genius of Mogens Fjellerup, and empathized with the suffocating sadness of Eigil Astrup-Frederiksen in prison. The disappearance of hope is a terrible thing, and every member of the Churchill upstarts had to wade through that mire. They bore scars from the years-long confinement, and at least one later committed suicide to escape his demons. But Knud Pedersen is the hero focused on in The Boys Who Challenged Hitler, as he was Phillip Hoose's primary interview source, and the image we get of him is indelible. At the time he first met with the author in 2012, he ran Denmark's Kunstbiblioteket, the first lending library for paintings ever created. Art was Knud's lifelong passion, and his reason for founding the library says a lot about him: "(A)rt is like bread, an essential ingredient for nourishing the soul." Whether it's painting, literature, or any number of other outlets, art is how we make sense of our lives, how we express who we are so others can appreciate it. Even in prison Knud created art, and years later became a noteworthy artist of his era. Knud was an extraordinary person who hung on into his late eighties so he could finish relating his story to Phillip Hoose, an author capable of doing justice to Knud's life and introducing the world to this hero who would not bow meekly to foot-soldiers of ignorance when all around him adults lacked even a quarter of Knud's spirit and courage. It often takes a kid to set foot where adults fear to tread. In 2014, his health in decline with The Boys Who Challenged Hitler finally complete, Knud scoffed at the idea of his own physical infirmity. "The doctors say that I am fragile," he wrote in one of the last of thousands of emails exchanged with Phillip Hoose. "But how fragile can one be who in eighty-nine years has lived in this most cruel century anybody could dream of?" Knud lived at exactly the time when a hero like him was needed. He never shied from his difficult role in history, and because he didn't, the Churchill Club remains a shining example to those who need encouragement when confronted with oppression. May we, like Knud, have the audacity to act on our convictions.Nonfiction is rarely rewarded by the Newbery committee, but The Boys Who Challenged Hitler is at least as deserving as most Newbery Honor nonfiction, and I would have delighted in seeing it claim a 2016 Newbery. Phillip Hoose delivers again with a book that faithfully depicts a turbulent era in history while not neglecting the heart and soul of the story, what makes it relevant to readers today or in any age. That's the reason The Boys Who Challenged Hitler is great literature, and why I would strongly consider rating it three and a half stars. I'll think often of the lessons I learned from this story, and I'll never forget Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club.

  • Jenny
    2019-04-26 19:12

    Very interesting book about Denmark during WWII. I had no idea that Hitler basically told the leaders, in Denmark, to do as he asked or he would bomb them until they did. This book is about a group of teenage boys who did not like that their country was not willing to fight Hitler, so they took matters into their own hands and staged their own sabotage missions.

  • Barbara
    2019-05-15 15:00

    Relying on 24 hours' worth of face-to-face interviews with Knud Pedersen as well as more than 1,000 emails and Pedersen's published writing, this nonfiction account of a group of Danish teens who dared to defy Adolph Hitler reads as smoothly as the most engaging novel. When Knud Pedersen was in the eighth grade, the Germans began to occupy Denmark, and his life changed completely. Suddenly, he became keenly aware of the difference in the reaction of the Norwegians and the Danes to the Germans, and he felt ashamed. When it became clear that the adults in charge of the country would do nothing against the interlopers, Knud and some of his classmates began talking--and acting. After forming the Churchill Club, named after the British Prime Minister, they began their small resistance movement, stealing weapons, removing signs, sabotaging equipment, and generally, becoming thorns in the sides of the Germans. All of these plots were carried out on foot or via their bicycles too, and the boys were sworn to secrecy. Although some readers might argue that the eight boys in the Churchill Club and the others who helped them in various ways were naïve, they were fully aware of the consequences of their actions. If no one else was going to act to restore the reputation of their country, then they would-and they did, keeping their small resistance movement a secret from their parents. When they are later arrested, tried, and imprisoned, they continue to try to keep up their spirits, and upon being released from prison, it's clear that the climate of the country has changed. There is little support in the country for the Germans, and resistance groups abound, inspired in no little way by the Churchill Club. Much of the story is told in the words of its protagonist, but the author also intersperses his own thoughts and observations without detracting from the narrative as a whole. The details of the teen resistance group's actions as well as the inclusion of differences of opinion among group members and Knud's unrequited crush on a neighbor girl as well as the reactions of classmates and teachers upon learning of the boys' arrest all add to the story's authenticity and appeal for its particular audience. For those seeking inspiration or examples of how one marginalized group stood up for their country and their beliefs and took action, this book serves as a ready example of courage and heroism. The inclusion of archival photos of the boys--looking so very young and innocent--and the description of the lives they went on to lead offer more food for thought. Fans of the books of Phillip M. Hoose will not be disappointed with this one, which needs to be required reading in several middle grade and high school history classes.

  • Barb Middleton
    2019-04-30 15:10

    When Germany invaded Denmark in World War II, there was no resistance or fighting from the Danes. Knud Pedersen was fourteen and disgusted that his country did nothing in wake of the takeover. He and his brother met with other boys at their school and formed a resistance unit modeled after the Norwegian resistance and British Royal Air Force (RAF). They began fighting the Germans by switching up German signs confusing arriving soldiers with misdirections. With their bikes as their weapons, they added cutting the German communication wires next and vandalizing vehicles. Police offered a reward for the capture those responsible, but Knud and his brother moved to a different city starting a new club.This club was named, "The Churchill Club," and the brothers along with eight boys targeted homes, offices, and stores of Nazi sympathizers vandalizing them. They left a calling card in blue paint whenever they struck. The club included about ten passive members that supported them with supplies and money, but who stayed out of the action. Their actions became bolder committing arson and stealing weapons from German solders before getting caught and sent to prison.The story reads like a narrative from Knud's point of view. Text boxes containing facts, maps, primary photos, and Knud's sketches add to the depth and richness of the story. I read this on the Kindle and I would have probably preferred the book. The separation of text features is limited in space on the Kindle as it only shows one page at a time. I got the idea and saw the separation by a bold black line but I had to enlarge the photos to see some details and the maps were unreadable unless enlarged. You might want to consider what format you want to use when reading this book. A fascinating look at children making a difference in the world.

  • David
    2019-05-13 17:12

    4.25 I am so glad I read this book. So many books about World War II are focused on France or the Holocaust. While those are extremely important topics, and should be be written about, there were many events in other areas of the world whose stories do not get told. It was very interesting to read a young adult book about the conflict in Scandinavia and more specifically Denmark. It was amazing to hear the bravery that these Danes showed under German occupation, but it is even more impressive considering their young age.

  • Lauren
    2019-05-20 18:13

    an amazing "backstory" or "behind the scenes" story so to speak about ww2. teenager Knud Pederson is a Danish living among the reign of the German, and he decides to take a stand for his country along with fellow classmates. they start off by vandalizing German property and move onto stealing weapons. one day they go too far and are caught and sentenced to 2 years in prison. this story, to me, was a story of taking a stand, even if it's not a big one. Knud and his club didn't directly threaten Hitler, or shoot down soldiers, but they did what they could, and their efforts inspired other resistance s around Denmark. ***the book isn't on goodreads for some reason, only the audio cd....***

  • Kevin
    2019-04-27 19:14

    As World War II began Denmark was quietly assimilated by Nazi Germany as a "protectorate." Trying to prevent bloodshed the Danish leaders did not fight. Ashamed that their leaders did not lead the people to fight, Knud Pedersen with other 14 year olds started a group of saboteurs called "The Churchill Club" who as children attacked Nazi supplies, stole weapons and spread anti Nazi slogans. Truly an interesting history that kept me mesmerized. I have a 14 year old son and I found myself imagining him blowing up Nazi vehicles and stockpiling stolen weapons.

  • Katie Hutchison Irion
    2019-04-26 17:18

    Continuing on my nonfiction kick...I really, really enjoyed this one. These boys in Denmark started the first resistance group during WWII while they were occupied by the Nazis. They were just BOYS! It was amazing to read about their courage and determination. I am sure had I been in that same situation I would have just curled up into a ball in my room and tried to will the Nazis away with my mind. I think that is about as courageous as I would have been. These boys were amazing.

  • Michael Cunningham
    2019-05-05 17:06

    I had never heard of this story and knew little about the Danish involvement in WW2, so this was not only informative but great story telling as well. I appreciated the author's notes on how he got the story and the relationship he developed with the original Churchill Club member. It's story I hope to see told again in other forms, perhaps a film as well.

  • Gavin G
    2019-05-02 20:13

    This book was AMAZING i could not put it down! Knud Peterson named the club after the fiery british army were so brave to actually challenge the man who could find you and kill you before you could even run. He was a maniac, plus this was very inspiring

  • Molly Dettmann
    2019-05-22 13:02

    Really fascinating story! Great non-fic read for middle school/high school readers. Really sucked me in with stories of daring acts of sabotage the Churchill Club carried out, and their harrowing time in prison. Great read!

  • Cara Jordan
    2019-05-04 17:16

    I'm not a huge non-fiction fan so I mean I didn't really enjoy this book but its about 15-year-old Khud Peterson didn't like the concept of Hitler leading and decided to challenge him that's why its called " the boys who challenges Hitler"

  • Austin K
    2019-04-26 17:23

    This book is called The Boys who Challenged Hitler and is about a group of boys who challenged Hitler. They steal weapons and take apart German cars! The reason they are doing this is because the town they live has been taken over by the Nazis and the grownups wont do any thin about it. So the kids put it in there hands. They form a club called the Churchill club after Winston Curchill. They are stationed in one of there dads church's call the monetary. They try to ruin Hitler's plan but get fought and go to trial... will they have to go to jail and stop the club or will they keep the club going with or without them..... read to find the rest.......... personally I thought this book was an amazing book that was action packed and supper exciting! If you like a little of war history you will love this book!

  • Alex Baugh
    2019-05-19 18:03

    When the Germans invaded Denmark on April 9, 1940, many Danes welcomed them, but many more were filled with anger as they watched these soldiers taking over their towns and cities. But what could they do? The Danish army was simply no match for the Germans. They may not have been willing to take on Hitler but Knud Pedersen, 14, a successful student living in Odense, Denmark, decided he might just be able to do something himself. Very carefully, Knud, his older brother Jens, and a handful of fellow students decided to form a resistance group. Calling themselves the RAF Club, named for the pilots who were defending Britain against Luftwaffe attacks, and modeling themselves on what they knew of the Norwegian Resistance, their goal was to disrupt their occupiers anyway they could.It didn't take long for the RAF Club to gain a reputation, irritating the Germans and eluding the Danish police. But in the spring of 1941, Knud's father, a Protestant minister, moved his family north to Aalborg and a new church. Knud and Jens were enrolled in the Cathedral School there, and again, it didn't take long for them to form a new resistance group with their new school chums. This time, they called themselves the Churchill Club, after their hero, Winston Churchill. The boys of the Churchill Club, with bikes as their only means to transportation, began to commit acts of satotage all over Aalborg. Not satisfied with vandalizing Germany property, usually setting fire using a small can of petrol they carried in the book bags, the boys decided they needed weapons.Cautiously waiting and watching, the boys slowly began to acquire guns from unattended German cars, creeping into rooms and taking guns right out of the holdsters of German solders, even sneaking into coat rooms in restarurants to help themselves to whatever weaponry they could find. Pretty soon, they had quite a cache of guns and ammunition, even snagging a machine gun at one point.And the boys managed to frustrate the Germans to the point that their resistance activities were known about in Nazi headquarters in Berlin. Both the Danish police and the Nazis were trying to catch these resisters, at first never dreaming these acts of sabotage were being committed by a group of schoolboys. And there were plently of close calls that could have ended in their capture.But in May 1942, the Chuchill Club's luck ran out and the boys were arrested. They were tried and imprisoned, most of the boys sent to an adult prison, where they were essentially in solitary until their release in 1944. Imagine their surprise when they returned home and discovered to what extent the Danish Resistance had grown. Because a handful of young boys, ashamed of their country's behavior in the face of occupation, decided to do something on their own? Certainly, that is what Philip Hoose implies and I am inclinded to agree. Once the boys were caught, and despite Nazi censorship attempts, the Churchill Club became an international story.The Boys Who Challenged Hitler is a inspiring, rivating story about courage, conviction and action. Hoose interviewed Knud Pedersen for a week in 2012 and so a great deal of this book consists of his recollections, told verbatim. In between, Hoose gives the reader enough information about Denmark, including why it was important to the Germans, about life under the German occupation, the attitude of the Danish people - including Nazi collaborators.There are numerous photographs throughout the book, including photos of the boys in the Churchill Club. I read the ARC, so I hope this photo is labelled in the published edition. And a word about the pipe - all of these boys, who were in their mid-teens, smoked a pipe. Hoose does end the book by telling the reader what became of each of the members of the RAF and the Churchill Club after the war. These is also a Selected Bibliography, including books, articles and web sites, even YouTube recordings the reader can listen to, and extensive Notes. The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club is a well-written, well-researched book by an author who specialized in nonfiction about young people making a difference and is one that I believe teen readers will find exciting, informative and even relatable.This book is recommended for readers age 12+This book was an EARC received from NetGalley and will be available May 12, 2015.This review was originally posted on The Children's War

  • Thomas K
    2019-05-20 16:11

    The Boys Who Challenged Hitler is a book about a group of boys from Denmark during WW2. The story behind it was the leader of Denmark refused to resist the Nazis, so a 15 year old boy named Knud Pedersen decided to form a resist called the Churchill Club. He and his brother Jens, and a couple of school mates would sneak around town and destroy Nazi property like cars, guns, and more. Eventually the boys were captured and sent to prison after destroying an airplane wing with a grenade. At the prison the boys slowly started to drift away from each other and most of them started to become depressed. What will happen next? Will the boys be sent to a concentration camps or will they be released? WOW this book was awesome! It had so many parts where I was holding my breath, like when they were captured. I loved everything about this book like the characters and the action packed heists. At some parts I felt nervous and worried for them. I would recommend this to anyone who likes history and action. I would compare this book to the book Night Divided which is also a historical fiction and action packed.

  • Brenda
    2019-04-30 20:09

    Originally posted at Log Cabin LibraryDuring WWII, Denmark became very valuable to the Germans, they were a buffer to other countries, and they had the materials and easy transport routes that Germany needed for the war. Denmark had decided that rather than fight and lose so many people like Norway had during their resistance, they would allow Germany to occupy them or become a "protectorate." This didn't sit well with Knud Pedersen and his brother Jans. They were very upset with Denmark for allowing Germany to simply invade them, and this is Knud's story of how they challenged the occupation. Each chapter alternates between Hoose setting up the historical scene or event and then Knud Pedersen giving his first person account of the events. Interspersed between Hoose and Pedersen's accounts are actual photographs, historical details, even letters and documents that provide much of the historical context for the story. This is the actual person who was there and participated in the resistance as a teenager. The beginning of the book is full of action as Knud and Jans destroy telephone lines and the road signs that lead to the German camps. They start out as a small club of boys who idolized Winston Churchill, even naming the club after him. Slowly as they get more recruits, the group escalates to sabotage, stealing weapons, ruining vehicles and then destroying rail-cars. The details that Knud recalls about the war, mixed with the danger and potential for getting caught, really held my interest. All of their resistance eventually draws the attention of the German soldiers and leads to a large reward for their arrest. Which happens sometime around 1942. The heart-wrenching moments happen as the boys are convicted and then sent to jail. Pedersen doesn't hold back on describing how the two years of incarceration affected him and his friends. Everyone, including his family are changed. Most of all, these teenagers changed their nation, they began a resistance that was picked up and continued by other teenagers, adults throughout Denmark as the news of their arrest spread. Pretty cool and defiantly a book a history buff or someone who particularly enjoys reading first person accounts of WWII would enjoy.

  • Jo Sorrell
    2019-05-07 14:23

    The Boys Who Chalkenger zhitler: Knud Pederson and the Churchill Club by Phillip HooseIt’s 1940, the dawn of World War II. Demark is under German attack. Very few are fighting back, taking a stand or doing anything other than watching on the sidelines and seeing disaster unfold. Knud Pedersen is 15 years old and wonders why the homeland is allowing the Germans to take over. Well, this influx of Germans is actually helping the economy as the Germans have money and need and want nice things. But Knud will not fall without a fight.Pedersen got a group together, and anyone who was willing to prove that they stood for Denmark’s freedom was gladly accepted. Their mission? Sabotage. They destroyed Nazi vehicles with homemade explosives, stole German weapons and tagged their city with messages of resistance. They did this in broad daylight, using bicycles for transportation. They were after all just young boys and had curfews. The group of young men --- most no older than 15 --- started a movement to prove their worth to anyone who stood against them, and they became a symbol of Danish pride. At their peak, they were loved by proud locals and despised by Axis sympathizers. They were the superheroes fighting for freedom in their own way. They looked the enemy right in the eye and proved that they weren’t afraid. It’s because of people like them that history played out the way it did, and the world is forever grateful.I smiled and enjoyed reading how the young boys were able to outsmart these highly trained Natzi's. I held my breath when they had mortar shells but didn't know how to use them. No internet yet. So they took them apart to get the gunpowder. There was none. They did notice a small disk at the bottom of the mortar. So....... They lit it! No one was hurt, but it was by miracle alone.This is a thrilling nonfiction book. Publication Date: May 12, 2015Genres: History, Nonfiction, Young Adult 12+Hardcover: 208

  • Joan
    2019-04-28 16:23

    My first reaction was doubt. One of the main claims made in this book was that the person at the center of this story, Knud Pedersen, started the first Churchill Club in Denmark which became the example for all the others started later. I grabbed an old book of mine, "Children of the Resistance", c.1968, and checked. The third chapter, titled "The Three Danish Musketeers", does not have dates enough to disprove the allegation. However, it does make it clear that even if the government capitulated, Danes themselves, were rebelling from the moment of capitulation. In this chapter, the 3 young boys, age 13, as was Knud, were involved in resistance work from their first holiday onward. And arguably the "three Danish Musketeers" were more effective since they had the sense to not virtually beg for captivity with daring actions. This is not to take away from honoring Knud Pedersen. I suspect by the very nature of these clubs that secrecy was imperative and Knud honestly felt he was the first to take action. Knud and the others in his group did heroic work and suffered imprisonment as a result. Several of the members were marked for life with depression and ill health. Several of the youth took reckless actions but in such situations, reckless gets redefined. They may look reckless to me but were they reckless in the middle of an undeclared war against Hitler? Perhaps not. I still would consider the "three Danish Musketeers" more effective because they did not take risks. From Knud's own account, the Resistance movement ostracized him because they felt he was unreliable and not willing to follow orders. Ultimately this is a book that needed to be published. Youth today are looking for examples to show them how to lead in the climate crisis and this book could give them ideas as well as reassurance that others have done so before them. I do wish Children of the Resistance would be republished.

  • Alicia
    2019-05-04 20:20

    While not one of the best-written narrative nonfiction stories, I found myself enjoying the story of Hoose and Pedersen's meetings and conversations more engaging than Hoose's 'storytelling' of the Churchill Boys themselves. Pedersen was one of the last surviving members of the group and Hoose took advantage of a failed attempt to publish the story by another author, to spend over a week with him to get his story. Don't get me wrong, it's fascinating. A group of private school youth/young boys who decided to fight back against Germany's invasion of Denmark by resisting them with devious acts like cutting lines, setting fire to German trucks, spray painting their own version of a swastika to prove that Denmark wasn't going to turn the other cheek as Germany kept their watchful eye by setting up inside the country. The stories are equal parts crazy and ingenious, with my favorite kid being the 'Professor' who used his skills in physics to whip up deadly cocktails to use as flammable materials for their sabotage. There were the boys who carried out the attacks, the boys who spread pamphlets and ideas, those that stole arms and artillery. But they all knew how deadly the game they were playing because at any moment they could be caught and executed. And while not executed, many spent a few years in jail for crimes, including Pedersen.The book sends an important message about standing up for freedom and doing what you can regardless of age, gender, or ability to protect your homeland.

  • Annette
    2019-05-15 20:01

    THE BOYS WHO CHALLENGED HITLER: KNUD PETERSON AND THE CHURCHILL CLUB by Phillip Hoose tells the amazing true story of teens who stood up to the Nazis in Denmark during World War II.The book’s introduction discusses how the author learned about the story and connected with one of the Churchill Club members. This work of nonfiction then alternates between a narrative discussing the formation and activities of the Churchill Club with the recollections of member Knud Pedersen. Filled with historical photos, maps, artwork, and other primary source documents, the fast-paced story is presented in short chapters that follow the teens from their acts of sabotage through their trial and imprisonment during the War. It concludes with a discussion of what happened to the group members after the War.To ensure that this book doesn’t get lost in the nonfiction section, consider featuring it along with works of historical fiction. Or, even better, suggest it to youth who enjoy dystopian fiction. This work of nonfiction contains the elements of resistance fighting that youth enjoy in dystopian works. It’s also a great choice for youth who enjoy real-world military and adventure stories.To learn more about the author, go to

  • Alyson
    2019-04-24 16:14

    I LOVE hearing new stories from WWII that haven't been told before. I am always very grateful that they were discovered (before it is too late) and shared. This book is about teenage boys who were very frustrated and upset with their Danish leaders for not resisting the Nazi invasion of their country so they decided to act against the Nazis on their own. These boys formed a club, The Churchill Club, and performed multiple acts of sabotage against the Nazis. They were eventually caught and imprisoned but their actions sparked Danish resistance movements during the war. I liked how the author shares the background of how this book came about and I was especially happy he was able to interview one of the members of the club, Knud Pedersen. My only (very minor) complaint would be the text boxes that were a part of the story. They were in the middle of the chapter and broke up the narration. These boxes were full of good information and I was like a kid at the candy store. I couldn't resist reading them as they were introduced, though I wish I'd waited until the end of the chapter so as not to break up the flow. This book was very informative and I admire the courage of these young men to stand up for what they believed in despite the danger. Wow! Great book.

  • Teresa Edmunds
    2019-04-25 15:06

    Books about courage and patriotism are more important than ever. This is a book about both. The Churchill Club was started by Danish teenagers as a way to show their opposition to the Germans and their frustration with the Danish government for not standing up to the enemy. Knud Pedersen, along with his brother Jens, organized the Churchill Club. They started their resistance with small acts of sabotage such as cutting communication wires and then expanded to setting fire to German buildings and vehicles. They even started to amass weapons, hoping to create a real force in a country with very little military options. Knud admits in his interviews with Hoose that the group was naive at times and untrained. But their desires to stand against Hitler and his army was sincere. Despite being captured and imprisoned, the efforts of these young men inspired a nation to take a stand and make a difference. It is good for all of us, young and old, to be reminded that freedom is worth protecting and should not be taken for granted. This is a powerful and informative book, recommended for all.

  • Julia
    2019-05-09 20:24

    What a total delight this non-fiction story is! I found myself looking forward to driving so I could listen to more of this audio book. Though I read widely about World War II, both fiction and non-fiction, I had never heard of the Churchill Club. Humiliated by their government and king, for putting up no fight when the Nazis came, these Danish teenage boys of the Churchill Club, and before it the RAF club, engaged in acts of sabotage, theft and confusion on Nazis. They repainted direction signs, they broke into offices and defaced Hitler’s portrait, they stole guns, and rifles the Nazis left laying about, even though they didn’t know how to shoot them. They did all this on their bicycles during broad daylight, because their parents gave them curfews. They were eventually arrested and imprisoned, but their bravery encouraged the Danish people to also do sabotage and resist, after they were arrested. I received this from Recorded Books, Inc and Library Thing Early Reviewer 6/12/15. Thank you Recorded Books and Library Thing!

  • David Hilton
    2019-05-17 13:24

    I read this for a teacher book group at the middle school where I work. I didn't know the story at all, but it connected nicely to background I had from Lois Lowry's, "Number the Stars" as well as a little known but excellent documentary film called, "The Danish Solution" (see link below).At the outset of World War Two, Germany advanced on Finland. The Fins fought back with all they could muster. Denmark, on the other hand, accepted occupation meekly. It took a group of sabotage-minded teenagers to inspire nationwide resistance. Hoose stumbled across the story on a trip to Denmark. He found Knud Pedersen - in his 80's but still fiery and cogent - and extracted this personal and engaging story. This book hooked me as an adult with quite a bit of background knowledge. I also think it would work nicely as an introduction for young readers. The pacing is swift and the plot pulled me along. Photos, sidebars, and captions add to the book's accessibility.(FMI about The Danish Solution:

  • Laura
    2019-04-23 17:03

    It is a super nonfiction read About a Danish resistance movement of boys named The Churchill Club ranging in age from 13-19. I found it easy to read, and Knud Petersen, the story's primary focus, to be a passionate guy. I especially loved how young the guys were--their group mugshot is sort of comical because they are so fresh faced and innocent looking. I appreciate how the boys didn't like their government's relationship, so they were going to take matters into their own hands. Their country eventually rallied behind them. It was almost as if these young men (boys) started the revolution against Germany. Incidentally, Knud Petersen started an art library in Copenhagen due to his belief that like bread art is an essential ingredient for nourishing the soul, so he started a library where for a small lending fee, a patron can take out a painting for a period of weeks. It was the first art library ever created. I recommend this book.

  • Maximo M
    2019-05-22 21:17

    This is a very good book fore those who like action and suspension . This book will put you at the end of your seat every single starts out very slow but starts getting faster very fast. I loved it made make feel like I was actually one of them.and this story tells you about all of their adventures and their sacrifices. I would compare this to World War II because that's where it's taking place. I hope you'll Will read it and enjoy it.

  • Julie
    2019-05-10 15:23

    I was very impressed about this true story of the teenage Danes who attempted to thwart the Nazis' take over of Denmark while a great majority of the adults accepted the German occupation. YA Non-fiction.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-05-07 15:22

    Very informative and an easy read.

  • Damian Maltezo
    2019-04-24 14:09

    The best book ever! wish i had that courage.