Snow Treasure.Marie McSwigan.
New York: Scholastic Books. 1958.
Grade Levels: 3 through 5
Objectives: Students should be able to:
Sunshine State Standards:
- Recognize and understand the courage and heroism of the Danish people and all others who resisted the Nazis.
- Realize that each of us has the capacity to do good as well as evil.
- Analyze and understand the reasons and motivations that caused certain people to take a stand.
- Recognize his or her own ability to work for justice and make a difference in one's own society and culture.
- Grades 3-5
- SS.A.1.2.1, 1.2.2, 2.2.3, 2.3.1, 2.3.2
- SS.B.1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.2.3
- LA.A.2.2.1, 2.2.2, 2.2.4, 2.2.7
- LA.E.1.2.4, 2.2.3, 2.2.4
View all Sunshine State Standards
- Snow Treasure.Marie McSwigan. New York: Scholastic Books.
Set in Norway at the beginning of World War II, it is the story of the people of the small town of Riswyk near the Arctic Circle who awaken on the morning of April 8, 1940, to find their country occupied by German troops. Their main concern is to keep Norwegian gold from falling into the hands of the German invaders. Peter Lundstrom, the main character, is a twelve-year-old boy whose father is the president of the bank. Peter's uncle Victor is a daring sea captain who invents a plan to slip the gold past the Germans and onto his fishing boat for transport to America. The children of Riswyk are divided into "teams". Each team carries the gold on their sleds, a few bars at a time, to the bay where Uncle Victor's boat is hidden. There the children bury the gold in the snow. They build snowmen over the gold so that Victor and his mate Rolls can find the gold and transfer it to their ship. One afternoon, Peter and his team are burying gold when the soldier appears. Uncle Victor and Rolls are close by and capture the soldier immediately. He claims to be Jan Lasek, a Polish conscript who hates the Germans. Uncle Victor locks the soldier in the hold of his ship while he decides what to do next. When the Germans discover that Lasek has disappeared, a house-to-house search begins. The novel ends as Peter hears Jan Lasek in the ship's galley practicing "The Star Spangled Banner" on a borrowed trumpet.
An understanding of what it means to be a rescuer and what it means to be capable of taking risks to help those in need.
1) Pre-Reading Activities and Discussion Questions:
- World War II was one of the costliest and most destructive wars in history. What do you know about this terrible conflict? Do a KWL, or choose one of the following topics, do some research about it in the library and share what you learn with your literature circle or the entire class.
- Causes of World War II
- War in Europe
- War in the Pacific
- Plight of the Jews and other minorities during the war
- You may choose to do some research about Norway during World War II. Answer the following from your research:
- When did Nazi Germany occupy Norway?
- What kind of struggle preceded the German Occupation?
- How were Norway's citizens treated during the war?
- What acts of resistance occurred during the occupation?
- Was there any known collaboration with the Germans?
- Find the country of Norway on a map or globe. Answer these questions.
- What is the capital of Norway? Where is it located?
- Why is fishing an important part of Norway's economy?
- What percentage of the country falls within the Arctic Circle?
- A fiord is a deep narrow inlet of the sea between high, steep banks or cliffs. Find photographs of fiords in the library. These will help you understand the setting of this story better.
- Imagine that you lived during a time when your country was occupied by an enemy force. If you were called upon to perform a patriotic task, would you risk your life for your country? Would you be concerned about your family or friends if you were to undertake this task? How do you think you would react if you were caught or captured?
2) Suggested Topics for Discussion and Responding:
- What was unusual about the weather in Norway in the winter of 1940?
- What was Peter's father planning to do with the gold bullion? Why was he making these plans?
- What did Uncle Victor mean when he said to Peter, "You're all right, youngster, you'll do"?
- The opening chapters of Snow Treasure provide background information for the book. Complete a chart that shows the information that you have gathered about characters, using their name and description as well as the central problems in the story.
- Do you think children should be trusted to transport the gold? What risks would they face? Would you want a similar responsibility? Why or why not? Explain.
- What evidence was there that the adults of Riswyk had great faith in their children?
- Why was Herr Holm worried about the weather?
3) Literary Devices:
- Allusion: Nanson, the sail maker, compared the cave in the story to "Aladdin's cave." This is an allusion, or reference, to a place in a famous legend.
- Who was Aladdin?
- What was in his cave?
- How was Aladdin's cave similar to the cave in this story?
- What other allusions might Nanson have made? What other locations in history or literature contained something valuable?
- Personification: Personification in literature occurs when an author grants human qualities to non-human objects. For example:
- The wind entered through cracks and crevices that no one knew existed. It seemed to force its way through openings that had been puttied and sealed with the greatest care, it tossed ancient ashes into little whirlpools of dust in all the rooms.
- Tell what is being personified.
- Cliffhanger: A cliffhanger is a moment of suspense usually placed at the end of a chapter or section of a book to encourage the reader to continue on to the next chapter. What is the cliffhanger at the end of Chapter 17?
4) Suggested Activities:
- As Peter was made aware of the plans to remove the gold, he "could hardly believe this was real life and that it was his father who was talking and not two characters in a book or film." Write about a dramatic moment in your own life that had a similar feeling or unreality.
- Imagine you are a newspaper reporter in 1940. Write a news story describing the German invasion of Norway. Remember that a good news story tells who, what, where, when and why in the first paragraph. The other paragraphs include important details.
- Imagine that the young German captain must write a report of his day's patrol. Write what the captain might say about what he saw in his two meetings with the children.
- Imagine you are Peter. Write a journal entry describing what you have been doing and how you feel about the events so far.
- Imagine the Germans put up posters in Riswyk after Peter and Jan Lasek disappeared. Write these "wanted" posters describing each fugitive and telling the reasons he abandoned Norway.
- After a five-minute planning session with your literature circle group, role-play any of the following imaginary scenes:
- Peter has a farewell scene with his mother just as the ship is about to leave.
- Peter and Jan talk with Uncle Victor about their future plans.
- Peter and Jan are recaptured by the German Commandant, but manage to escape.
- Mama receives her first letter from Peter in America. She shares it with Peter's father and the rest of the family.
- Although much of this story is historically correct, no one is certain whether the story about the children of Norway actually happened. Nonetheless, the people of Norway acted courageously under Nazi occupation. Do some research on Norway during World War II and find out what life was like during the occupation and what acts of courage are known to have been performed.
- Create three brief news announcements for Radio Free Europe based on descriptions found in Snow Treasure.
A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 1997-2013.