Each day leading up to the April 13 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2013 Young People’s Literature Finalist:
Shadow on the Mountain recounts the adventures of a 14-year-old Norwegian boy named Espen during World War II. After Nazi Germany invades and occupies Norway, Espen and his friends are swept up in the Norwegian resistance movement. Espen gets his start by delivering illegal newspapers, then graduates to the role of courier and finally becomes a spy, dodging the Gestapo along the way. During five years under the Nazi regime, he gains—and loses—friends, falls in love, and makes one small mistake that threatens to catch up with him as he sets out to escape on skis over the mountains to Sweden. Preus incorporates archival photographs, maps, and other images to tell this story based on the real-life adventures of Norwegian Erling Storrusten, whom Preus interviewed in Norway.
Excerpt from Shadow on the Mountain:
Against the blue-black mountains, Espen’s bicycle was just a tiny moving speck. Far below the road, the river pulsed and rushed, swollen with rain and snowmelt. The sun had long ago slipped away, leaving just a thin fringe of light glimmering along the ragged edge of the western mountains. The dangerous time of day, his grandmother would have said, the time of day the trolls come out.
Head down, straining forward over the handlebars, Espen felt his heart pump in rhythm with his legs. The muscles in his arms and legs burned, his heart beat furiously, and, ridiculously, his stomach was growling. He was always hungry. But how could he be hungry now?
Margi Preus is an acclaimed children’s book author and playwright whose first novel, Heart of a Samurai, earned a 2011 Newbery Honor award and the Asian Pacific American Award – among other accolades. She served as the artistic director of Colder by the Lake Comedy Theatre for 25 years and, with playwriting collaborator Jean Sramek, has written hundreds of comedy sketches, a couple of comic operas, and dozens of plays for young people and adults. Preus lives in Duluth. Visit her on the web.
“Newbery Honor winner Preus infuses the story with the good-natured humor of a largely unified, peace-loving people trying to keep their sanity in a world gone awry. Based on a true story, the narrative is woven with lively enough daily historical detail to inspire older middle-grade readers to want to learn more about the Resistance Movement and imitate Espen’s adventures.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A closely researched historical novel relates this wartime tale with intelligence and humor… Ms. Preus deftly uses together historical fact (Espen is based on a real-life spy) and elements of Norwegian culture to conjure a time and place not so terribly long ago.” — The Wall Street Journal
Listen as Stephen Usery interviews Margi Preus about her debut novel, Heart of a Samurai, which won a Newberry Honor. — “Book Talk” author interview produced by FM89.3 WYPL in Memphis, TN.
Margi Preus discusses her work on Heart of a Samurai.
Award winners will be announced at the 25th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at the Hilton Minneapolis. An author meet-and-greet and book signing reception precedes the awards ceremony, and the Epilogue after-party includes complimentary champagne, desserts, and live music by Reina del Cid and the Cidizens. Tickets on sale now. Click here for more information.
Have you read Shadow on the Mountain? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!