War on Skis
Author sheds light on little known WWII unit
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
Kathleen Benner Duble, author of Phantoms in the Snow, does not believe in coincidence. Everything happens for a reason, she says, and many of the coincidences in her life have lead her to writing historical fiction novels. Phantoms in the Snow, for example, originated from Duble's discovery of the World War II winter warfare division, the Phantoms.
Duble has become famous for her historical fiction novels, and she enjoys writing about unique and unknown events in history.
"I like to find really interesting ways of looking at history that no one has done before," she said. "The Phantoms and the 10th Mountain Division are really cool because they are a little-known area of World War II."
In a recent interview, Duble told Scholastic Kids how she first learned about the Phantoms.
"My husband had found an article online, and it was about going out to Denver where they used to train," she said. "I got really interested in the story, so I started doing a lot of research on them. We have this camp atop a mountain in the Berkshires, and I was playing tennis with this gentleman up there. It turns out that he was one of them. So I really wanted to write about this story after that."
During the interview, Kathleen provided insight into what the Phantoms did after the war.
"They really started the whole ski resort aspect," she said. "These guys wanted to show their love for the outdoors and gave it to the general public. They're still skiing, and they're incredibly active and athletic, even though they're in their 80s and 90s."
When Duble was asked which character was most similar to her, she answered, "I guess I would be most like Noah: his questioning of why you go to war, the reasons for it, and his love of family—love of family is a really big part of who I am."
The author went on to discuss her decision to make Noah an orphan.
"Well, it's actually easier to develop the plot when the parents die—in every Disney movie the parents are always dead, did you ever notice that?" she said. "It was really the only way I could get Noah to live with his uncle. I wanted his uncle to be the total antitheses of his parents so that Noah was faced with the confrontation of war."
On many occasions, Kathleen has subconsciously incorporated her own background into her stories.
"There are always some family things that pop up; you don't even realize you're doing it," Duble said. "For example, I grew up in Dallas, Texas, so that probably came into why he [Noah] came from Texas."
In addition, Duble has consciously integrated many of her experiences into her novels to enhance her story. In Phantoms in the Snow, these include her first attempt of skiing and her vacations to Italy.
"When Noah falls on the J-Bar lift, it was exactly what happened to me," she said. "I'd also been to Italy, and I love Italy. When you feel an affinity for a place, it's much easier to write about the people."
Check out Kid Reporter Kevin Agostinelli's review of Duble's book Phantoms in the Snow!
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