Village of Scoundrels

Village of Scoundrels
Age Range
Release Date
February 25, 2020
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Based on the true story of the French villagers in WWII who saved thousands of Jews, this novel tells how a group of young teenagers stood up for what is right. Among them is a young Jewish boy who learns to forge documents to save his mother and later goes on to save hundreds of lives with his forgery skills. There is also a girl who overcomes her fear to carry messages for the Resistance. And a boy who smuggles people into Switzerland. But there is always the threat that they will be caught: A policeman is sent to keep an eye on them, German soldiers reside in a local hotel, and eventually the Gestapo arrives, armed with guns and a list of names. As the knot tightens, the young people must race against time to bring their friends to safety.

Editor review

1 review
Great Novel of the French Resistance
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Life in a remote French village in 1942 is going on without too many problems from the Nazis. The local people are very invested in saving Jews, and there is even a school with a lot of children who have been smuggled out. Everyone is involved; the local minister, the teachers, and local farmers, who have more food than is available in other places. The Jewish population have assumed other identities, often complete with papers, and the Resistance movement is an open secret, with talented forgers working on documents and people traveling through the town on their way to Switzerland. When a new officer, Perdant, comes to town, he is determined to find out what is going on and "follow the laws". Since he is able to be outwitted even by ten year old boys, he doesn't get very far, but he does add a level of anxiety to the situation. Based on a true story, there are a variety of experiences portrayed, and the epilogue, which ties in the real people to the characters in the book, is complete with pictures.
Good Points
This was a slightly different take on France during the war, since the village was small and remote. Because the situation wasn't quite as dire with food and Nazis living in the are (think Don't Tell the Nazis), the characters are able to focus more on moving people out of the country. There are a wide variety of characters representing a lot of different roles, and their interactions are woven together well.

I always appreciate books that can be informative to both middle school and high school readers, and this is a great choice for stronger middle school readers. It's a bit longer, and there is a lot of information. The French Resistance is one of the World War II topics that I find particularly interesting.

There is still a need for lots of books about WWII, and resisting the Nazis is a favorite topic of mine, since it involves a lot of suspense even if there are not as many battles, which makes it a popular choice for a wider variety of my readers. If you enjoyed this author's Heart of a Samurai or Shadow on the Mountain, or WWII books such as McDonough's The Bicycle Spy, Calkhoven's Michael at the Invasion of France, Giff's Genevieve's War, or Gratz's Allies, this is another great choice.
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