Continuing our look at the Cheshire Schools’ Book Award 2023 shortlist, Rosie goes back in time with Tom Palmer’s Resist.
Printed in dyslexia-friendly text for children aged around 10 and over, this Cheshire Schools Book Award 2023 nominee for the Younger Age Category is a fantastically moving and informative historical adventure based on the real experiences of Audrey Hepburn’s childhood in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands.
Edda – the main character inspired by Audrey Hepburn – is an amazingly brave teenage girl, but still feels relatable. A war is raging around her, pushing her to make choices most people would never have to consider, but she is still a child; she wonders when her ballet lessons will start again, loves playing with her friend’s dog, wants her brother to be proud of her. Her courage grows throughout the story, and she finds new resilience as she sees the suffering the Nazis are inflicting on the people around her. She is scared of what she’s doing, and what this might mean for her and her family, and this fear doesn’t go away but is overcome by her strengthening resolve; she goes from nearly turning back on the way to deliver Resistance newsletters to unhesitatingly walking past Nazi guards to bring a fallen US airman clothes, food, and a passage to safety.
Edda’s point of view perfectly immerses the reader in the historical context of the story, from her watching crying children ushered onto trains, to the echoes of the bombs crashing above her family’s cellar. The most evocative part of the description is of Edda’s hunger – beginning with a growling stomach and weakness in her arms and legs, and worsening till her joints were swollen, so thin her bones hurt when she lay down but without the energy to get up.
The book will be particularly fascinating for children studying the Second World War, but having gone into it knowing very little about the Dutch Resistance and nothing about Audrey Hepburn certainly didn’t temper my enjoyment of it. The context is conveyed well through a richly described setting rather than a factual introduction, immersing you in the history (though there is more information about the Resistance and Occupation at the end of the book for those – like me – who finished the story wanting to know more about the period).
Resist celebrates the incredible bravery of seemingly small acts in unimaginable circumstances – to deliver papers, offer shelter, even to dance could risk your life, and yet Edda did. Her mother did, the doctor did, just few among thousands of people across an occupied country to lay their lives on the line. The book tells you that doing the right thing – standing up to protect family, neighbours, total strangers – is terrifying, but that the simplest acts of resistance matter, and together they can save lives.
Resist is one of ten books shortlisted for the Cheshire Schools’ Book Award 2023. All books are nominated, read, debated and voted for by secondary students across Cheshire, Warrington, Halton and surrounding areas. The winners of this year’s award will be announced at Winsford Academy on Tuesday 23rd May 2023.For more information on how your school can participate in future events, please contact us on email@example.com.