I'll review them all, and will start with Snow Treasure, by Marie McSwigan. The kids loved this book. There's something about outsmarting Nazis that appeals to the righteous rebel in a child.
The plot is simple: a group of villagers in Norway have decided to guard a huge amount of the country's gold. Twelve-year-old Peter Lundstrom's father explains it to him:
"Well, it's like this, Peter. There is a good deal of gold in Norway, more than we'd like to have fall into the hands of an enemy, especially one that might use it to make war on us. So we've decided to guard it with our lives. It isn't the gold itself so much. It's the fact that it may be used to bring death to the very people to whom it belongs .... Other countries have been sending their gold to the United States for safe keeping. That's what we want to do too, if it can be managed."
Peter could hardly believe this was real life and that it was he and his father who were talking and not two characters in a book or a film.
And so begins the adventure of Peter's life. He and many other school children, seemingly enjoying their usual sledding, smuggle gold past the occupying Nazis and onto Uncle Victor's boat, where it will be spirited away to safety.
There is, of course, suspense and danger along the way, as well as opportunities for ingenuity and courage. Without revealing the ending, I will say that it surprised us a bit, though it is basically a happy one.
The frigid Norwegian setting left us (and the characters) feeling cold most of the time, making Snow Treasure a perfect book to cuddle up with while sipping hot chocolate (the audience, of course) and coffee (ReaderMom, of course.)