Hero on a Bicycle
By Shirley Hughes
(Candlewick, Hardcover, 9780763660376, 224pp.)
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
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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.
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.
This first novel by acclaimed children’s picture-book writer and illustrator Hughes expertly captures the tension in the Crivelli home, as Rosemary tries to raise her two children and keep them safe while covertly supporting the Partisan cause...A superb historical thriller.
—Kirkus reviews (starred review)
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...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.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Vividly evoking the closing-in conflict, with tanks rumbling along a nearby road, zooming fighter planes and relentless shellfire, Hughes ratchets up the tension. ... Huge as the war is, this story is an intimate one -- centering on the courageous actions of one Italian family as the conflict arrives at their doorstep, forcing them to grapple with the harsh complexities of good and evil.
—The New York Times Book Review