Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12
- Grade: 7 to 12
- Reading age: 12 to 18
In occupied Holland during World War II, sixteen-year-old Janke Visser watches her fatherís and brotherís involvement with the Resistance movement in their small town and longs to help fight the Nazi invaders. But there is tension in the family as her nervous mother fears that their actions will doom them all. Nevertheless, when the opportunity to become a courier for the Resistance presents itself, Janke welcomes it. The danger provides some relief from the harsh realities of war-time life. As living conditions deteriorate and her missions become ever more perilous, it is her hatred of the Nazis that fuels the courage and determination Janke needs to go on. And then she meets Helmut, a young German soldier who doesnít fit the stereotype she has learned to hate so fiercely. Now suddenly she must deal with confusing new feelings for the enemy. But when Janke is captured while helping an Allied airman escape, her fate seems sealed. Unless Helmut is willing to betray his own countryÖ
About the author
Martha was born on a dairy farm in Friesland, one of the northern provinces in the Netherlands. The family used horses for work and play. She trained and worked as a kindergarten teacher and made up stories, puppet plays and songs for her students. In 1981, Martha immigrated with husband, Albert and three children to Canada. They settled in North Bay, Ontario. Albert worked as an engineer, the children went to school and Martha attended Nipissing University to obtain her teaching certificate. After graduating, she took creative writing classes and became a member of the North Bay Children's Writers' Group. She taught kindergarten for many years and today teaches grade one Language Arts, Drama, Music and Computers. Again Martha found herself writing songs, poems and stories for the students.
The members of the Children's Writers' Group, encouraged her to send her manuscripts to publishers in Canada and the United States. In 1995, she published her first novel, A Time to Choose. This war novel is set in Friesland and deals with the Resistance. Martha was delighted when her first book won the Blue Heron Book Award. Martha's dream of becoming a published author had come true. Martha loves student feedback during school presentations.
Their children have grown up and left home. Albert and Martha have nurtured another dream. They always wanted to live off the grid and use solar and wind energy to power their home. In 2004 that dream came true. Together they built an off the grid straw bale home just outside the town of Powassan in Ontario. The house is super insulated, partially built with renewable resources and powered by renewable energy. They are self sufficient except for the propane tank that fuels the cooking stove.
In her new office, overlooking farmers' fields, she feels inspired to write many more stories for young readers.
- Short-listed, Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award nominee
- Commended, New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age
- Commended, CCBC Our Choice
"...a tribute to the heroic roles played by women and girls in the resistence movement....Highly recommended."
"Readers will not want this book to end....[it] is a triumph."