Hero on a Bicycle
Hero on a Bicycle
Walker Books Ltd
This is a gripping and moving first novel by one of the world's best-loved writers for children. In extraordinary circumstances, people are capable of extraordinary things...It is 1944 and Florence is occupied by Nazi German forces. The Italian resistance movement has not given up hope, though - and neither have Paolo and his sister, Constanza. Both are desperate to fight the occupation, but what can two siblings do against a whole army with only a bicycle to help them? This is a beautifully jacketed edition. It has linked website with historical details about the Second World War in Italy, including period photographs, videos and music, as well as interviews with the author, extra illustrations and much more. This is a wonderful first novel from the internationally revered Shirley Hughes; a modern classic in the making.Librarian's Book choice
Secondary pupils who have grown up alongside the beloved Shirley Hughes may be surprised to be given a novel by her, but this is a sophisticated and beautifully written narrative, which has the unmistakable feel of a true story.
Indeed if they study the fantastic supporting resources provided on the website www.heroonabicycle.co.uk they will learn that this is in fact based upon friendships made and stories heard on early post war visits to Florence.
Those stories, told by partisan survivors, obviously left a deep impression and we can reap the benefit of many years' percolation in the mind of a true storyteller.
The Italian setting and protagonists give an unusual and useful angle to compliment World War 2 studies. We are not often given an insight into life in Italy under the German occupation and the predicament of Paulo and his sister Constanza is intensely engaging. With their political activist father, who has had to go into hiding, and their English mother who makes them an obvious target of suspicion for collaborators and occupiers alike and simultaneously the obvious candidate to help with the perilous task of assisting allied servicemen escape, their ingenuity and courage is continually challenged.
The role of Paulo's beloved bicycle is not to be underestimated either and it will be good for modern eyes to recognise how incredibly liberating and valued that mode of transport was in those times and only one of the many valuable lessons to be learnt from this very rewarding novel.