The Winter War

Written by William Durbin
Review by Mary K. Bird-Guilliams

Solid young adult author (most reviews give the age ranges for his books as upper elementary through middle school) William Durbin is reliable for historically grounded fiction of major world events. The invasion of Finland by Stalin on the eve of World War II is not often chosen for a subject, but it provides thrills as well as chills (the Finns triumph in pushing back the Soviets was in good measure due to their ability to handle winter warfare) and is a saga worthy of fictional treatment. It was a land grab that didn’t fully succeed, although Finland ceded some land to achieve a ceasefire, but the Soviet losses were astronomical. Young Marko is proud to be a watcher for air raids, especially so since he has one weak leg from polio. When the planes start their raids, he quickly finds an opportunity to serve as a courier, and throughout the war he skis his way through plenty of action.