For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy
For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy
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Annotation: Despite the horrors of World War II, a French teenager pursues her dream of becoming an opera singer, which takes her to places where she gains information about what the Nazis are doing information that the French Resistance needs.
Catalog Number: #4649866
Format: Paperback
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Dell Yearling
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition Date: 2005
Pages: 181 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-440-41831-3
ISBN 13: 978-0-440-41831-3
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2002013057
Dimensions: 18 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Convent girl and aspiring opera star Suzanne, thirteen, finds her world almost completely changed when the Germans bomb Cherbourg in 1940 and occupy the city. But as she begins her career as a star soprano, Suzanne finds another vocation as well: she becomes a spy for the Resistance. Suzanne is engagingly modest about her espionage activities, and the first-person account is lively with details of life under occupation.
Kirkus Reviews
Suzanne David's father always said, "Obey the rules and no one gets hurt." But when their French town of Cherbourg is bombed, her neighbor is killed, the Nazis take over, and her family is turned out of their house, whose rules does she obey? When one of the few black families in Cherbourg disappears, Suzanne says to her Papa, "I thought Hitler only hated Jews. I didn't know he hated black people too." "Now you do," he replies. It is this growing awareness, step by step, that leads to Suzanne's involvement in the French Resistance, becoming number 22, and relaying messages essential to the planning of the D-Day invasion. Based on Bradley's interviews with the real Suzanne, this is an exciting account of a girl's coming of age in a scary time. The historical context is neatly woven into the story, so readers will learn about Dunkirk, the fall of Paris, Vichy France, Charles de Gaulle, and D-Day. A terrific companion to Gregory Maguire's The Good Liar , but for an older audience. (Fiction. 10-14)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-Life for Suzanne David, a 13-year-old French schoolgirl and music apprentice, dramatically changes in May, 1940, when she and her best friend witness the brutal death of a neighbor when a bomb drops directly in front of them. Soon the Germans take over Cherbourg, and the Davids are forced from their home into poverty. Then Suzanne is given the opportunity to help the Allies. Bravely, she risks her life, family, and singing career in order to spy for the Resistance. The pace of this suspenseful novel, told in first person and based on a true story, moves swiftly into action within the first chapter, showing the young heroine as strong, courageous, and clever. Filled, but not laden, with the events of the war, and peppered with French language and the culture of music, this novel will appeal to readers who enjoy history and espionage.-Kimberly Monaghan, Vernon Area Public Library, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Teenage Suzanne David is so focused on her dreams of becoming an opera star that she barely notices the growing Nazi presence in her French hometown of Cherbourg, until an air raid in 1940 literally puts the death and devastation at her feet. Her innocent appearance, iron will, and schedule as a singer-performer attract the attention of a local Resistance leader, who recruits her to become a spy and entrusts her to transport encoded Allied messages. Based on interviews with the real Suzanne David (who married an American soldier in 1945 and moved to Tennessee), this taut, engrossing World War II novel instantly immerses readers in the horrors faced by everyday citizens during the Nazi Occupation. The real focus, however, is the skin-crawling suspense story about one of France's youngest spies. Each chapter brings new intrigue and often shocking revelations, made all the more intense by the facts about codes and disguises and the fast-paced, first-person narration. There aren't many accounts for young readers about the French Resistance, and from setup to conclusion, this one resonates with authenticity, excitement, and heart. The teenage hero who must keep her spying a secret, even from her parents, will thrill historical fiction fans.
Word Count: 36,087
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.0 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 69056 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.2 / points:10.0 / quiz:Q33653
Lexile: 580L
Chapter One

For me the war began on May 29, 1940. I was thirteen years old.

It was a Wednesday, the day we studied catechism and had choir practice and then had the afternoon free. Of course, I had to remain after choir to rehearse my solo, but when that was finished I found my friend Yvette. Together we went to Soeur Margritte.

S’il vous plaît, please, Soeur Margritte, may we go down to the beach?” we asked.

Our convent school was high among the hills of Cherbourg; school was farther from the beach than my own home. But while we were not permitted home except on weekends, we were sometimes permitted to go about town. Yvette and I were good students, well behaved. Always follow the rules, my papa told me, and you will be all right. I always did, and I always was.

“We will take our homework,” Yvette said.

“It’s such a beautiful day,” I said.

“We will be back before supper,” we chorused.

France had been at war with Germany for nearly six months, yet there had been so little fighting that it seemed to mean nothing. The German army had spread across Europe, almost unopposed; neither the French nor the British had done much to stop them. There were English soldiers stationed in Cherbourg—I saw them when Maman and I went to the market on Saturdays—but they were quiet and polite and never bothered anyone. I couldn’t imagine them actually fighting. Some days it was hard to believe we were in a real war.

Which is not to say we weren’t paying attention. We listened to the radio and read the newspaper reports with increasing dread. We knew Hitler was coming; we feared that nothing could stop him. Papa and Maman talked in low voices at the dinner table, and sometimes Papa pounded his fist on the table and swore. “That Hitler!” he would say. “That cursed son of Satan!”

But I was only thirteen. My brothers, Pierre and Etienne, were fourteen and sixteen, too young to be soldiers; Etienne was lame as well. And I was studying to be a famous opera singer. I loved singing like nothing else. At Christmas I had sung a solo in the church choir, Gounod’s “Ave Maria,” and our director had said I was talented and should pursue a career. So now I had a music tutor, Madame Marcelle; I took special voice lessons twice a week and practiced hard every day.

So it was not that I was not paying attention to the war, but that I never thought the war could hurt me.

“Yes,” Soeur Margritte decided. She was the nicest of the sisters. “It’s a beautiful day, and who knows how many carefree days we have left. You may go. Have a nice time—but do your homework!”

We skipped down the cobblestone streets. The wind blowing in from the Channel tousled our skirts, pulled at our hair. I sang an aria from Carmen as we drew closer. Carmen was my favorite opera. I knew most of the part of Carmen, but I still could not reach some of the high notes.

“Oh, tais-toi,” said Yvette, rolling her eyes at me. “Be quiet. Singing, always singing. I bet you sing in your sleep.”

I probably did sing in my sleep. Someday I would sing in Paris. I dreamed of it all the time. “I’ll ask Odette,” I said. Odette was one of my roommates. I hummed a few notes, then began again. “Ah! je t’aime, Escamillo, je t’aime, et que je meure si j’ai jamais aimé quelqu’un autant que toi! Ah, I love you, Escamillo, I love you, and may I die if I have ever loved anyone as much as you!”

Yvette grinned. “What a horrible song!” She tossed her hair over her shoulder, flung her arm out dramatically, and began to sing, “Savez-vous planter les choux? Do you know how to plant cabbages?” A simple nursery song. Her voice wobbled, up, down, down, up.

Singing is a talent. You have it or you don’t.

“Come on!” I said, running toward the sea.

We went to the Place Napoléon, the big square near the Gare Maritime, the station where trains could pull right up to the harbor to load and unload the ships. The Church of La Trinité formed part of the square, and from the benches around the edge we could watch the ships in the harbor, the waves curling, and the birds wheeling overhead. People strolled back and forth across the square.

We settled onto a bench in the sun. I opened my history book. History was my favorite subject. Yvette sniffed the air as though it were a flower. “It’s so nice to be outside,” she said, “after being stuck in that stuffy school all day. You’re not going to start with the books already, are you? Let’s talk.”

“Okay.” I closed my book and looked around. “The harbor’s empty. That’s odd.” Cherbourg had an important harbor; before the war big ships had come often. I had been on the Queen Elizabeth once, when she was docked at Cherbourg.

Yvette looked too. “Not really,” she said. “It’s such a pretty day. If I had a boat, I’d take it out today too.”

Bonjour, Yvette,” came a woman’s pleasant voice. “Bonjour, Suzanne.”

Bonjour, madame,” we said. Our friend Madame Montagne waved to us as she came nearer. Her little son, Simon, skipped down to the water’s edge and threw rocks into the waves. The Montagnes lived near Yvette’s family, and Madame Montagne was Yvette’s mother’s friend. Since I was Yvette’s best friend, I had known Madame Montagne for years.

“Where’s Marie?” I asked. Marie was her daughter, two years old, a beautiful child with wide blue eyes.

“With her grandmother,” Madame Montagne said. She patted her bulging belly happily. She was going to have a baby very soon; we often talked to her about it. Yvette was knitting her a pair of tiny booties. “I have grown too fat and I can’t carry her this far. But Simon wanted to walk down to the beach. It’s such a pretty day.” She looked up. “Is that a plane?”

There was a far-off buzzing noise. It did sound like a plane.

Salut, Simon!” Yvette yelled. Simon waved to her.

I hummed a scale to myself, D minor, as I found my place in my history book again.

The buzzing noise grew louder.

“Simon!” called Madame Montagne. “Do not get your shoes wet! Stay out of the water!” She started to walk toward him.

Suddenly the noise turned into a roar. Planes swarmed overhead, many of them, their engines fast and loud.

I jumped to my feet. My books slid to the ground. Yvette turned toward me, her eyes wide. She said something I didn’t hear.

The beach, the square, exploded.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpted from For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

From the Newbery Honor and Schneider Award-winning author of The War that Saved My Life comes For Freedom, the thrilling true story of one of France's youngest spies during World War II and perfect for fans of Code Name Verity and The Diary of Anne Frank.

   
Suzanne David's everyday life is suddenly shattered in 1940 when a bomb drops on the main square of her hometown, the city of Cherbourg, France, killing a pregnant neighbor right in front of her. Until then the war had seemed far away, not something that would touch her or her teenage friends. Now Suzanne's family is kicked out onto the street as German soldiers take over their house as a barracks.
    Suzanne clings to the one thing she really loves--singing. Her voice is so amazing that she is training to become an opera singer. As Suzanne travels around for rehearsals, cosume fittings, or lessons, she learns more about what the Nazis are doing and about the people who are "disappearing." Her travels are noticed by someone else, an organizer of the French Resistance. Soon Suzanne is a secret courier, a spy fighting for France and risking her own life for freedom.

[STAR] "This taut, engrossing World War II novel instantly immerses readers,...[but] the real focus, however, is the skin-crawling suspense story about one of France's youngest spies. Each chapter brings new intrigue and often shocking revelations...resonat[ing] with authenticity, excitement, and heart."-Booklist, Starred

[STAR] "This suspenseful novel,...based on a true story, moves swiftly into action...Filled, but not laden, with the events of the war, and peppered with French language and the culture of music, this novel will appeal to readers who enjoy history and espionage."-SLJ, Starred

[STAR] "Based on Bradley’s interviews with the real Suzanne, this is an exciting account of a girl’s coming of age in a scary time. The historical context is neatly woven into the story."-Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"The action will have readers on the edge through the tense conclusion, and the epilogue is not to be missed."-The Bulletin

"A highly compelling look at the covert battle for freedom."-Publishers Weekly

An IRA Teachers' Choice
An ALA Amelia Bloomer Selection
A VOYA Top Shelf Fiction Selection
A New York Public Library Book Pick
A Bank Street College Best Book of the Year


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