On My Bookshelf: Hitler's Canary by Sandi Toksvig

September 23, 2019

Hitler's Canary is based on a true story and describes one family's efforts to help with the resistance in Denmark. The novel was filled with colorful characters who illustrate a range of responses to WWII and the treatment of the Jews by Nazi Germany. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: My brother stood up so quickly he almost knocked Mama over. "Why aren't you doing something? Do you know what the British are calling us? Hitler's canary! I've heard it on the radio, on the BBC. They say he has us in a cage and we just sit and sing any tune he wants."

I knew I should be afraid, but I didn't know yet what of: the Germans? The British? The French? We were theater people. We didn't get involved in these things. It had nothing to do with us.


Bamse is used to drama―his mother is a famous actress and his best friend, Anton, is one of the most daring boys in all of Denmark. Should he follow his father's advice and not stir up trouble―or follow his daring brother into the Resistance and take part in the most demanding role of his life?

Why I liked it: Hitler's Canary is based on a true story and describes one family's efforts to help with the resistance in Denmark. I have always been absolutely fascinated with Denmark's resistance movement during WWII. 99% of the Danish Jewish population survived the Holocaust because 7,220 of Denmark's 7,800 Jews were evacuated by sea to nearby neutral Sweden. I get chills just thinking about it.
Hitler's Canary is based on a true story and describes one family's efforts to help with the resistance in Denmark. The novel was filled with colorful characters who illustrate a range of responses to WWII and the treatment of the Jews by Nazi Germany. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

The novel was filled with colorful characters and I liked that together they illustrated a range of responses to the war in general as well as the treatment of the Jews by Nazi Germany. The main character Bamsie (meaning teddy bear and pronounced Bum-sir) grows frustrated with his parents lack of action and he and his best friend, Anton, begin working with his brother Orlando and the resistance movement. The action culminates when Bamsie's family hides a dozen or so Jews in their home and then helps them escape to Sweden.

Classroom application: Hitler's Canary would be a great pairing with Number the Stars as both focus on the events in Denmark during WWII but one from a young girl's perspective and one from a boy's perspective. I used both in 6th grade this year as literature circle choices. All of the texts were set during the Holocaust and WWII and connected to the theme of "decisions that matter."

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Hitler's Canary for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Hitler's Canary is based on a true story and describes one family's efforts to help with the resistance in Denmark. The novel was filled with colorful characters who illustrate a range of responses to WWII and the treatment of the Jews by Nazi Germany. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

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