A Traitor Among Us
Elizabeth Van Steenwyk
Ages 9 to 12
Eerdmans, 1998, 0-8028-5150-9
Thirteen year old Pieter is beginning to wonder if his world is ever going to be normal again. It is almost as if the war and the “Moffen” – the Germans – have always been there. And yet he can remember a time when he lived happily with his parents and his brothers. Now however, his father is gone, taken away by the Germans, and his big brothers are off somewhere fighting for the Dutch Resistance. Now Pieter is the man of the family and many responsibilities rest on his shoulders. Sometimes this means having to go out at night to find used cigarettes that the Germans throw away. The leftover tobacco can be bartered to get much needed food. Sometimes it means that he has to help Beppie, a girl who works for the Resistance, and these are the jobs that terrify Pieter the most for he knows that if he is caught he will probably be shot.
Information starts to come through which indicates that something big is going to be happening soon and Beppie calls on Pieter more and more to be a courier for the Dutch cause. She even asks him for help transmitting messages using a short wave radio. Pieter begins to wonder if there is anything Beppie cannot do. To add to all this, Pieter and Beppie both know that there is someone in their town who is traitor, someone who is feeding information to the Moffen.
This excellent novel captures the atmosphere of occupied Holland very well. Through Pieter readers gets a sense of how afraid and how angry the Dutch were, and how hard they fought to free their country of their German occupiers. They had much to fear for one never knew who could be trusted and who might be an informer.
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