Monday 2 November 2015

The White Mouse – The Story of Nancy Wake

The White Mouse – The Story of Nancy Wake by Peter Gouldthorpe (Omnibus Books)
HB RRP $26.99
ISBN 978-1-74299-091-0

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Nancy Wake was a brave, resourceful and heroic woman. An Australian journalist, she played a large part in the French Resistance during World War II. Dubbed The White Mouse by the Gestapo, she played a large part in freeing imprisoned Allies and helped many of them, along with Jewish refugees, escape over the Pyrenees to freedom with little thought for her own safety. Even after she escaped Paris, she joined the secret Special Operations Executive in England, training with them until she was ready to parachute back into France to continue her work with the resistance.

This is not a picture book for younger readers, but is an enjoyable and accessible way for middle grade and lower high school aged children to learn about history and the resistance fighters in the war. Having the Australian connections makes it even more relevant for Australian students and the study of Australian women in World War II, which is part of the new history curriculum.

The appealing layout of the book includes a map, images of the war – some in colour and some as sepia postcards – and text, printed on yellowing notepaper - it looks as if it has been torn from a journalist’s notepad.

Sticking to facts, this story is full of fast paced action - parachuting behind enemy lines, blowing up bridges and smuggling refugees across borders.
Nancy Wake was a true heroine, becoming the most decorated Australian woman of World War II and this is a fabulous and engaging book about her exploits.

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