Review of the Week: We Will Not Be Silent

We Will Not Be SilentFreedman, Russell. We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler. Non-fiction. Clarion, 05/2016. 112pp. $17.99. 978-0-544-22379-0. HIGH ADDITIONAL. GRADES 5-8.

Between spring 1942 and summer 1943, a small group of young Germans calling themselves collectively, “Weiße Rose” or “White Rose” clandestinely issued and distributed a series of leaflets that condemned Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party and urged German citizens to rise up and overthrow the German government. Gestapo agents were after them in a heartbeat, and eventually White Rose members were captured and rapidly executed. Russell Freedman’s powerful, new non-fiction book for 5th through 8th grade readers is brief and focused. It includes only essential background information and eschews extraneous sidebars while keeping the White Rose members in the foreground. At the heart of the story are a sister and brother, Sophie and Hans Scholl, and their family and friends. With clear language, Freedman charts the siblings’ path from willing Hitler Youth members to activists driven by horror and rage. Even with the brevity and acute focus of the book, Freedman builds a powerful sense of the totalitarian state that the Scholls confronted. Archival photographs, including reproductions of White Rose leaflets, are plentiful and well chosen. This is an excellent addition for collections with broader works on WW II. Pair this with Hoose’s The Boys Who Challenged Hitler (Farrar, 2015) for tales of courageous young people in troubled times. Review based on an ARC.

Emma Coleman, Berkeley PL

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