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Hero on a Bicycle

Cover of Hero on a Bicycle

Hero on a Bicycle

In her first novel, beloved author Shirley Hughes presents a World War II adventure proving that in extraordinary circumstances, people are capable of extraordinary things. Italy, 1944: Florence is occupied by Nazi forces. The Italian resistance movement has not given up hope, though—and neither have thirteen-year-old Paolo and his sister, Costanza. As their mother is pressured into harboring escaping POWs, Paolo and Costanza each find a part to play in opposing the German forces. Both are desperate to fight the occupation, but what can two siblings—with only a bicycle to help them—do against a whole army? Middle-grade fans of history and adventure will be riveted by the action and the vividly evoked tension of World War II.

In her first novel, beloved author Shirley Hughes presents a World War II adventure proving that in extraordinary circumstances, people are capable of extraordinary things. Italy, 1944: Florence is occupied by Nazi forces. The Italian resistance movement has not given up hope, though—and neither have thirteen-year-old Paolo and his sister, Costanza. As their mother is pressured into harboring escaping POWs, Paolo and Costanza each find a part to play in opposing the German forces. Both are desperate to fight the occupation, but what can two siblings—with only a bicycle to help them—do against a whole army? Middle-grade fans of history and adventure will be riveted by the action and the vividly evoked tension of World War II.

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  • Text Difficulty:
    4 - 5

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About the Author-
  • Shirley Hughes has won many prestigious awards, including the Kate Greenaway Medal twice. She began to write and design her own picture books when she had a young family and has now published more than two hundred titles. Hero on a Bicycle, written in her eighth decade, is her first novel. She lives in London.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 4, 2013
    After more than 50 years of writing and illustrating children’s books, two-time Greenaway Medal–winner Hughes delivers her first novel, a tense and emotional thriller set during the German occupation of Florence in 1944, near the end of WWII. With an absent father and a British mother, 13-year-old Paolo Crivelli and his 16-year-old sister, Constanza, suffer isolation and scrutiny under the tight security of the Nazis and their neighbors’ suspicion (their father is believed to be a Partisan, part of the pro-Allied resistance). Paolo secretly violates the city’s curfew each night to ride his bicycle across town, and Partisans approach him one evening, setting in motion their plan to have Paolo’s mother harbor escaped Allied prisoners of war. The third-person narration shifts smoothly among Paolo, Constanza, and their mother, giving readers profound insight and perspective on their individual worries and pressures, as their situation becomes all the more perilous. The Italian setting is vibrantly presented, and Hughes creates both a memorable cast and a palpable sense of danger at a critical juncture of the war. Ages 10–14.

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    Candlewick Press
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