Snow Treasure Discussion Guide
- Grades: 6–8, 9–12
About this book
Tell students that they will read a book called Snow Treasure, a story about how the bravery of a group of children helps in the fight against a terrible enemy. Explain that the book shows what people, even children, can accomplish in a time of need. It also shows how an entire town can work together to accomplish an important goal. In this case, the goal is to keep tons of gold from the hands of an enemy that has invaded the country.
Use the activity that is best suited for your class.
Option 1: Explore the idea of what an enemy is by drawing on students' prior knowledge of literature. Talk about the characters who had to deal with real or imaginary enemies. If students have difficulty recalling examples, remind them of such classic tales as Treasure Island, in which a boy must deal with an entire band of pirates, or Johnny Tremain, in which American patriots are struggling against their British oppressors.
Divide the class into small discussion groups for the purpose of listing the enemies described in books (both fiction and nonfiction) they have read. Have some group members describe these enemies in words while others draw pictures of them. (You may want to suggest that they illustrate the Hessian soldiers who wore bright red uniforms when they fought the Colonists during the Revolutionary War.) When the students have finished, have the groups share what they've done with the rest of the class.
Option 2: For students who are not familiar with other books, help define what an enemy is and have students explore the concept. For example, ask students if they know someone who has fought in a war, having them identify the war, and explain what the causes were, and who the enemy was. Or, if students wish, have them relate instances in which they came up against a real or imaginary enemy. Help students understand that, for both individuals and countries, today's enemy is often tomorrow's friend. When they have finished, have students make a list of words or phrases that people might use to describe how they feel about an enemy. Then ask students to compare lists and discuss why some of these words might appear on so many lists.
Distribute copies of Snow Treasure and call students' attention to the illustration on the cover. Identify the first boy as Peter Lundstrom, the other children as Peter's sister Lovisa and their friend, Michael, and the adults as Nazi soldiers who have invaded the children's country, Norway. Explain that this story takes place in 1940, during World War II, in the cold, snowy country of Norway. Ask students what they think the book's title might mean.
Note: Remind students that the book was published in 1942 during World War II. Explain that a “world” war is fought by the principal nations in the world. World War II was fought during the period 1939–1945 in Europe against Nazi Germany and from 1941–1945 in the Pacific against Japan. Adolf Hitler was the dictator who controlled Germany at that time and invaded countries such as Norway, Britain, and France.
Before beginning the story, tell students that it is a tale of adventure and courage and that the children in it are real heroes. Point out that many people actually believe that this story is true. On June 28, 1940, a Norwegian freighter named Bomma reached Baltimore with $9 million in gold. The captain of the ship told the story students will read in Snow Treasure. He would not give real names and locations, though, in order to protect the children. Because of this there is no real proof that the story ever really happened, but many people, both in America and Norway, do believe that the events are true.