By Shirley Hughes
Genre: Historical fiction
Number of pages: 224 pages
What’s the basic story line?
During World War II, Florence, Italy, is occupied by Nazi forces. Thirteen-year-old Paolo Crivelli and his sister, Costanza, are without their father, who was forced into hiding. Paolo sneaks out many nights and rides his bicycle through the dangerous city streets, pretending to be a hero. He thinks his thrilling adventures are a secret, but his mother and sister know what he is doing—and worry about his safety. One night, the Partisans, a group of Italians fighting for freedom, find Paolo and ask him to deliver a message to his mother. The message asks her to hide two escaped prisoners of war. The Crivellis do as they are asked, but they often feel that the risk they have taken on is too dangerous.
Are the characters believable?
Yes. The reader can feel the risks and dangers through the main characters. Paolo is a typical boy, and the reader discovers a connection with him through his adventures and desire to be a hero. Constanza, his 16-year-old sister, likes to escape from the family's anxiety by listening to music. Their mother has lots to worry about, and the reader feels empathy for all her burdens.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this book?
I would rate this book a 9. Shirley Hughes does a great job describing the setting. You feel like you are in the story! The book incorporates historical characters with fun and adventurous personalities. Hero on a Bicycle is a great read that many people would enjoy.