This was a book that as soon as I spotted it in hardback in the children’s section in our local bookshop I knew I wanted to read . But I waited till it was out in paper back then bought it for my son and I to read.
My son and I have struggled to fit in bedtime reading recently as he’s increased his sporting activities this term and is now out several nights a week with only time for a quick tuck in and no reading. But we both found that we were missing the reading sessions so have made an effort on the night’s that he is in to make time for reading and managed to read Hero on a Bicycle very quickly. We were home alone on Friday night so settled down for an hour or so to complete the book.
It is as the title suggests about a boy and his bike. But the reason that he is a hero is that he lives in Florence at the end of the second world war and he and his mother and sister become involved with the resistance by hiding Allied soldiers in their cellar despite the fact that they are already under suspicion by the Gestapo as their Father is in the Partisans.
This was one of those books that brought history to life the fear of the Gestapo. The hope of the allied soldiers getting through. The brutality and loss of life on both sides. And the horrors of war and how it can tear families apart. By the end of the book the Germans are on the run and the book shows the fear on their part too and that not all of them wanted war but had to fight. There is a harrowing scene where the sister and brother are trying to get back home and meet a German soldier that they know he implores them not to go down the road they are on as there are landmines so they turn back he and his men go on and he is blown up. This is covered in a way that can be read to kids but I respected the fact from a historical point of view it is historically accurate.
A good book that both my son and I enjoyed and often read more at night as we had to know what happened next. I liked the historical accuracy of this book while giving you compelling vulnerable characters who you wanted to survive. Would suggest you don’t read to anyone under ten but for older children with an interest in history this is a very good read.