It’s difficult for me, born almost 20 years after World War II ended, to imagine what it must have been like to live through the war. How much more difficult it must be for today’s young adults, some of whom may not even know anyone living who experienced the war first hand. Saving Da Vinci paints a vivid portrait of what life was like in Nazi-occupied Italy.
Saving Da Vinci is an exciting story about the Partisan groups that resisted the Nazi occupation in Italy. Sixteen-year old Stefano and his girlfriend Lina are members of a Partisan group, and they risk their lives to rescue downed allied airmen, save Italian artwork from the Nazis, and do whatever they can to help the people of Italy. The story pulses with real danger and suspense yet the story is written in a way that is entirely appropriate for a middle grade audience. The horrors perpetrated by the Nazis are depicted realistically — Partisans are captured and tortured and innocent people are massacred &mdash but author Annie Laura Smith manages to do it in a way that isn’t overwhelmingly frightening or horrifying.
Saving Da Vinci is an exciting story that will grip middle-grade readers and hold their interest, while helping them to understand a terrible period in our history. It would be a great literature connection for a unit on World War II. Other books in the series are The Legacy of Bletchley Park, about the Bletchley Park decoders who translated coded German messages, and Will Paris Burn?, about the German occupation of France. The books are available from OnStage Publishing
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