105. Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan. Illustrated by Andre LaBlanc (Canada) - (US)

Pages: 156 pages
Ages: 8+
Finished: Apr. 29, 2011
First Published: 1942
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: children, historical fiction, world war II
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

"Beat you to the turn!" Peter Lundstrom shot his sled down the long steep slope.

Acquired: purchased a used copy from a garage/book sale or thrift shop.

Reason for Reading: Read aloud to ds as part of our history curriculum.

I've read this book a couple of times in the distant past and the story vaguely stayed with me. It is the story of how children were used to take gold from the bank of Norway on their sleds, right past the Nazis and then bury it in the snow and build snowmen on top of it. The gold was then secretly, at night taken aboard a hidden ship by the crew who, when the mission was completed would take the country's money to the US for safekeeping during the occupation of their country and duration of the war.

The story is a bit old-fashioned in its writing style but still holds up well with its exciting story of children being the heroes of the day. The story is pretty much plot driven, with the mission and danger moving the book closer and closer to the climax. While the characters are never fully developed and presented as quite stereotypical. Good, heroic, patriotic children who do what they're told and never waver from doing their duty.

I remember enjoying the story more than I did this time around and my son was never quite taken with it. He became more interested as the book neared the end and the tension mounted a bit, but otherwise he was generally lukewarm to the story. For myself, I think I may have been tempered by having found out, while looking to see if there is a movie of the book (there is) that this story is most likely not true.

From when it was written until recent times the book was purported to be a true story. I have an old edition from the '60s which states "This story really happened." New editions of the book do not pass it off as a true story anymore. There has never been any proof that this event with the children happened, no witnesses, the children never came forward afterwards, no memoirs or diaries found, etc. So it is very hard to believe it is true. What is true, is that a ship arrived in America with Norway's gold and the captain gave a story that children were involved and it was from this news story that Ms. McSwigan based her story. One must remember that this event happened right in the middle of the war, as was the book published, so no real information would have been wanted to have been leaked to the Nazis. A non-fiction book about the rescue of Norway's gold was written in a book called Pimpernel Gold: How Norway Foiled the Nazis by Dorothy Baden-Powell which is out of print but should be available online or in libraries.


  1. I used this book, along with Number the Stars and Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes, in a lit circle class last year focusing on the WW2 experience. It made a great trilogy!


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