Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Hitler's Canary by Sandi Toksvig

Hitler's Canary (2005)

by Sandi Toksvig

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1981159,376 (3.86)7

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 7 mentions

English (10)  Danish (1)  All (11)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Bamse's Danish parents and their friends are non traditional. His mother is a famous actress who seems to live in an dreamy, poetic world with little of her actions indicating her feet and thoughts are planted firmly on the ground.

His papa is an artist who words for a newspaper drawing political cartoons, and who also helps design marvelous stage back drops for his lovely wife.

His brother Orlando is actively working to undermine the Nazi's.

When Denmark is invaded by Hitler's armies, at first it appears life can stay the same. But, as time progresses it is obvious that there can be no complacency. As the Danish people rebel and try should random acts of violence against the German soldiers, increasingly their actions are dust in the wind.

As Bamse learns of the bigotry and hatred toward Jews by the German regime, he and his friend Anton become involved in a mission to help the resisters.

When the Nazi's invade their apartment looking for Jews in hiding, it is Bamse''s theatrical mother who finds a way to keep the Nazi's from taking Bamse's beloved friend Anton and his family. ( )
  Whisper1 | Aug 8, 2014 |
Ten-year-old Bamse joins his family in the Danish resistance, eventually helping to save his Jewish friend Anton. The story is arranged as an historical play (Bamse’s mother is a famous actress and his entire family is involved in the theater) with acts, scenes, dates, etc. and is based on Toksvig’s father’s experiences.

This novel emphasizes a more complex morality than most novels of the Danish resistance, possibly because many of the main characters are from the less conventional world of the theater. In this story, not all Danes are “good” and not all Germans are “bad.”

This is exemplified in Bamse’s family; Papa doesn’t want to provoke the Germans, his brother Orlando wants to fight, Uncle Johan is a member of the Danish Nazis, and Bamse's sister Masha is involved with a German soldier. The extent of the novel, from the beginning of the occupation to liberation, covers the early lassitude of the Danes under occupation and the slow growth of the resistance. Also contains references to the German persecution of homosexuals. Somewhat heavy emphasis on not persecuting differences, accepting people as they are, etc. The story also gives a more complete picture of a family’s ordinary, if somewhat eccentric life, both before and during the invasion.

Historical References:Each chapter heading has dates and locations for the following action. The story begins in April, 1940, with the invasion of Denmark.
Pg. 42 Foreign Minister, Erik Scavenus and the arrest of the communists in 1941.
Pg. 56 The Churchill Club
Pg. 80 Prime Minister Vilhelm Buhl, protests against sabotage
Pg. 140 Bishop Fuglsang-Damgaard sends a statement of religious freedom and support for Jewish Danes to all Lutheran churches

Resources: The “program notes” briefly describe the rescue of the Danish Jews, including statistics.“Author’s note” tells some of the family stories behind the novel and the author’s inspiration.

Verdict: An interesting and unique look at the Danish resistance, but the writing (or perhaps the translation) is sometimes awkward. It's hard to know who the audience is for this - some elements are going to be too old and intense for elementary students, but the flavor and characters feel younger than a teen audience. Older middle grade is the best spot for it. An additional purchase if you have a lot of interest in world war II historical fiction.

ISBN: 978-1596432475; Published March 2007 by Roaring Brook; Borrowed from the library
1 vote JeanLittleLibrary | Oct 25, 2011 |
Based upon historical events and the experiences of the author’s family, Sandi Toksvig’s Hitler’s Canary is an effective and suspenseful telling of the German occupation of Denmark. Told from the perspective of ten-year-old Bamse, the book begins with the German invasion in 1940 and ends with the 1943 escape of Danish Jews. In the intervening years, both Denmark and Bamse are forever transformed.

Although the historical events of World War II play a large role in the story, it is the family drama and coming-of-age tale that will likely keep the reader turning the pages. In the beginning Bamse, his family, and his Jewish friend Anton only barely affected by the occupation. But as the suspense rises and the invaders tighten their grip on the country, Bamse’s family is drawn into the war. At the center of the family conflict is Bamse’s older brother Orlando, who joins an underground resistance movement in an effort to actively oppose the Germans. The boys’ father wants the family to lay low and wait out the war, but Orlando refuses to let his country become Hitler’s Canary – the dictator’s little songbird in a cage.

Inspired by Orlando’s actions, Bamse and Anton eventually join the fight, carrying out increasingly dangerous tasks for the resistance. The boys’ father is devastated to find out about his sons’ involvement, but it soon becomes clear even to him that the family cannot sit idly by while the war rages on. It takes the cooperation of the entire family, even Bamse’s Uncle Johann – initially a Nazi-sympathizer – to protect their Jewish friends and defend their homes from the Germans.

The novel is written with a theatrical flair that adds a unique layer to the story. Bamse has grown up with the theater: his mother is a well-known actress who speaks in quotes from famous plays, and his father is a set designer. After the Germans invade, Bamse’s world of make-believe is gradually taken apart by the harsh reality of war. The author uses the stark contrast between imagination and reality to explore the ways in which war undermines everything from the innocence of childhood to the security of our everyday lives. The theater dynamic is the strongest aspect of the novel. The narrative is broken into Acts and Scenes rather than chapters, parallels are drawn between famous plays and the events of the story, and the family’s unique talents are put to use fooling the Germans and saving their friends.

Toksvig wrote the novel after telling her ten-year-old son stories of her family’s involvement in the war. It’s clear that she understands how to present such serious subject matter to young children: the language is simple, the violence is minimal but treated seriously, and the subtle humor is used appropriately. Those factors, along with the life lessons Bamse learns along the way, make Hitler’s Canary a worthwhile and unique addition to children’s historical fiction. It is appropriate for children ages nine to twelve, though older children may also enjoy the story. ( )
  edenjean | Oct 25, 2011 |
It kept you wanting to read more definitely, but near the end it got a bit sloppy. Not at the end, but near the end. ( )
  topthat4 | Jul 25, 2009 |
During World War II, Denmark was occupied by the Germans in order to use their factories. Ulitimately, the Jews were targeted. This story, based on fact, is of a theater family's life during the occupation and each member's role in the resistance. Bamse, the narrator, becomes involved along with his Jewish friend Anton despite his fear. ( )
  ChristianR | May 8, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
"The day the Germans invaded, I was asleep on Henry V's throne. It was 1940."
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440866626, Paperback)

Based on a true story, this is a gripping, yet humorous account of a daring rescue in occupied Denmark.

April 1940: German troops are pouring onto the streets of Denmark. 12-year-old Bamse and his daring friend Anton can’t resist playing practical jokes on the invading soldiers. When it becomes clear to the people of Denmark that the trouble isn’t going to pass them by, they decide to take action and Bamse and his eccentric family are about to take part in one of history’s most dramatic rescues — smuggling Denmark’s Jewish population across the water to Sweden, and safety.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:47 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Ten-year-old Bamse and his Jewish friend Anton participate in the Danish Resistance during World War II.

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
15 wanted

Popular covers


Average: (3.86)
1 2
2 2
3 11
3.5 3
4 23
4.5 1
5 14

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 116,975,455 books! | Top bar: Always visible