Hitler’s Canary by Sandi Toksvig

Bamse is a small boy living in Denmark at the time of World War Two. His parents both work at the local theatre, the father painting sets, and his mother a renowned actress, and before they are invaded Bamse spends carefree days with his friend Anton who lives in the flat upstairs. However, all this changes when the Nazis invade, nothing really happens for a while, so Bamse doesn’t find the war particularly dangerous at this point, and he and Anton can’t resist playing the odd practical joke on the Nazi soldiers, but underneath all the laughter, Anton and his family are becoming more and more worried about what is going to happen. Bamse’s father tells his sons to lie low, not stir up any trouble that could get them noticed, but Bamse’s brother, Orlando, begins to work for the resistance, serious work, against his father’s will, and soon Bamse and Anton are pulled into the Resistance movement, helping deliver secret papers and putting messages on the bottoms of trains to send off to England, but when Orlando is arrested by the Nazis and the situation is Denmark starts to turn hostile, the boys, and the rest of the country, embark on a huge, nationwide mission to deliver all the Jews from Hitler’s clutches, and show the world they are not just Hitler’s Canary.

I really enjoyed this book, and the fact that it was a partially true story was just incredible, given the massive scale of the book’s ending. I think it was actually made better because I have read, and am also reading currently, so many books about World War Two, and the contrast between something like Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys, which is a roughly true story about the horrific treatment of the people who were taken away in WW2, The Boy in Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne and this book, gives you a sense of perspective about the war and how it changed between different people. For example, whilst I was reading this book I kept thinking how well Toksvig had given it a childish perspective, making World War 2 feel slightly like a big game. You don’t usually find many good books about the war which have a great, happy ending, well not to my knowledge anyway, so I was really pleased when I finished this book, and I also like the way that the ending didn’t completely turn out all smiles and butterflies and rainbows, because it just brings a little bit of realism back into the story. This was a great book and I really enjoyed it, it has one of the best endings I have ever read (I can promise you I was positively grinning all throughout the last few chapters!) so go on and read it! It will give you a smile on your face (hopefully) and a new perspective on World War 2.


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