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Hero on a Bicycle

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  633 Ratings  ·  152 Reviews
In her first novel, beloved author Shirley Hughes presents a World War II adventure proving that in extraordinary circumstances, people are capable of extraordinary things.

Italy, 1944: Florence is occupied by Nazi forces. The Italian resistance movement has not given up hope, though — and neither have thirteen-year- old Paolo and his sister, Costanza. As their mother is pr
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 23rd 2013 by Candlewick Press (first published April 19th 2012)
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Dec 20, 2012 Miriam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was excited to get this ARC, as I loved reading Hughes' "Alfie" books with my children and was interested to see what she would do with her first novel. The story is set late in World War II just outside of Nazi-occupied Florence, Italy. The heroic family are sympathetic to the Partisans (Babbo is off somewhere working with them) but cautiously keeping their sentiments under wraps, as their situation is perilous. Nonetheless, they become entangled in an effort to help prisoners of war escape a ...more
LH Johnson
The thing about Shirley Hughes is that she's one of the authors that you think you know. And in a way, you do. When you think Shirley Hughes, you think of things like Dogger, of Alfie, of my Naughty Little Sister and her puckishly naughty face. She's a doyenne of children's literature and for good reason. Hughes has come to be one of those writers / illustrators that crosses borders and escapes the echo chamber and has become pretty much instantly recognisable to anybody who's ever had a kid, be ...more
The Book Queen
Apr 28, 2015 The Book Queen rated it liked it
I read this a long time ago, and I can't remember if I liked it or not, so I'm giving it three stars.
Apr 14, 2013 VaultOfBooks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

By: Shirley Hughes. Grade: A

The title, Hero on a Bicycle, actually sounds a little strange when you hear it for the first time. But when I saw the pretty cover of the book, and read the well written and intriguing blurb, I was immediately interested. One, because I love history- especially that of the second World War period and Nazism. Two, because I haven't really read much material on how the Second World War impacted Italy- or any other European country apart from Germany, so I was just a li
Terri Lynn
This "children's book" is entirely appropriate for young adults and adults of all ages. During World War 2 in Florence, Italy, Rosemary Crivelli is an English woman married to an Italian man Franco and the mother of two teens- 17 year old Constanza and 13 year old Paolo. Franco had to run off to hide because of the Gestapo in Nazi occupied Florence so Rosemary has to look after herself, her two kids, the housekeeper/cook Maria, and their elderly dog Guido.

It's a hard life with food rationing and
Oct 16, 2013 Melissapalmer404 rated it really liked it
Book #83 Read in 2013
Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes (YA)

This book is set in Florence, Italy in 1944 and tells of the Nazi occupation in that country. Paolo is a young boy whose father is a soldier and has left him in charge of the family. He longs for action and adventure but when he gets some in his life, it is slightly more than he bargained for. Paolo's mother is English and is doing her own war duty in their hometown. This book was a good, quick historical fiction read, especially for m
Alex Baugh
Jun 07, 2013 Alex Baugh rated it liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
The events in Italy during WWII aren't often written about in kidlit. To date, I have only written about two books where the action takes place in Italy. The first was Stones in Water by Donna Jo Napoli, an MG story about an Italian boy rounded up in the cinema while watching an American cowboy movie and sent to work in a labor camp in Germany. The second was the excellent picture book I Will Come Back for You by Marisabina Russo, about how a young Jewish girl and her family were helped to survi ...more
Isaac Zaman
Jun 05, 2015 Isaac Zaman rated it really liked it
Book Title:Hero On a Bicycle
Book’s author: Shirley Hughes
I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

I recommend this book because it shows the struggles of being a civilian on the German side of the war as they started to lose the 2nd world war. I think more young adults should read this book because it follows a story of a young adult in the middle of a war. This book is also very easy to relate to if you are also a young adult.

This book is about a boy named Paolo and his family during world war two. Th
Shirley Hughes' picture books for children are true works of literature. They have a particular pace that I did see echoes of in this work for young adults but the novel doesn't stand out in the way her picture book stories do. It is a decent enough tale - a bit different in that it is Italian children in WWII - and there was plenty of suspense. I enjoyed the lack of over-simplification - the brutality of the Partisans, the reluctance of the children's mother to help, the relationship with Conta ...more
What a strange little book. I love Shirley Hughes' picture books, but I'm not sure about this transition to books for older readers. Though the subject matter should really make it a middle school read, the somewhat simple text and sparse plot make it more suitable for upper elementary grades; and the theme that good guys can be bad and vice versa is very simplistically presented. The constant switching of POV feels odd, and I just didn't feel engaged by any of the characters. Based on a true st ...more
Dec 28, 2016 Dale rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Was about a third of the way through the audiobook before I realised I wasn't really paying attention at all. Storyline really didn't grab my interest at all.
Aug 13, 2014 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
set in Italy
not England
or Germany
POV from different place
Edward Sullivan
An exciting war story about a young teen fighting with the partisans in World War II Italy.
Feb 18, 2017 Margaret rated it it was amazing
This is a very exciting well-written book about a family living in Italy during World War II when they were under Nazi occupation. The father is away fighting with the Partisans and the family, a British born mother and two young teens, must cope on their own. I don't want to give anything away, but trust me, it is a very good read!
May 15, 2017 Patrick rated it liked it
This book starts of slow. It takes it's time to build up to a thrilling story. It shows a side of war from a civilian's point of view and the hardships that come from it all the while reluctantly dealing with clandestine efforts to help the allied forces. This is a good read for people of all ages and I'm personally glad it was recommended to me.
Nov 30, 2016 brr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good story of one family during WWII

I think any middle school student who is interested in history would enjoy this book. You cannot help feeling the terror the family had to know.
Elisha Warnock
May 12, 2017 Elisha Warnock rated it really liked it
Good read for young youth. It talks about the trials that young kids had to struggle with during war time. Deals with tragedy, love, and humor on the journey that changes a family forever.
William C
Jan 09, 2017 William C rated it it was amazing
My book is The Hero on a Bicycle. This book is by Shirley Hughes. This book falls in to the historical fiction category because it accurately describes events that happened during World War 2. For example during World war 2 Germany forces had control over Italy. It is the summer of 1944 in Nazi controlled Florence, and without school or friends to keep him busy, the bored 13 year old Paolo Crivelli spends his nights taking bike rides around the city. Paolo thinks his family are unaware of his ac ...more
This Saturday I was feeling rather under the weather, and then something arrived in the mail that was just what I needed: two MG books from Candlewick Press, one of which was Hero on a Bicycle. "Italy, 1944: Florence is occupied by Nazi forces. The Italian resistance movement has not given up hope, though — and neither have thirteen-year- old Paolo and his sister, Costanza. As their mother is pressured into harboring escaping POWs, Paolo and Costanza each find a part to play in opposing the Germ ...more
Jan 25, 2016 Julie added it
In Hero on a Bicycle, Paolo's relationship with his bike is as important to him as that with his faithful old dog, and both have a role to play in Shirley Hughes's first novel. It's set in a place and period little written about outside Italy: Florence during the German occupation of 1943/4. Thirteen-year-old Paolo sets out each night on his bike for the city centre, believing his excursions to be a secret. But his mother and older sister Costanza know all about them, and are wearily waiting for ...more
Nov 21, 2013 Sergio rated it really liked it
**Spoil Alert*
The Hero on a Bicycle is a good book to read.I liked this book because it is a historical,action, and adventure. Some words i didnt understand because they were in Italian or in German.

In world war 2 a boy named Paolo and his mom and sister lived in Florence, Italy.The Nazis came and tried to take over, but Partisans helped protect Florence and its people. Poalo's dad left his family a long time ago to join the Partisans. Until one night when Poalo was taking his usual dangerous n
Amanda Harris
Oct 20, 2014 Amanda Harris rated it liked it
Year: 1944
Place: The Outskirts of Florence, Italy
Summary: Nazi German Forces have occupied Florence during WWII

More Details:
The story starts with Paolo, a gutsy, spirited young boy, who consistently makes secret nighttime rides into the city on his bicycle, but always shows up at home before sun up. The problem is that there are soldiers everywhere and once night falls, a curfew is enforced-and anyone caught breaking the rules would be dealt with severely. School is closed and life is very confi
Jun 30, 2013 Brenda rated it liked it
In 1944 in Florence, Italy, Rosemary Crivelli, Paolo’s mother… “knew she should remind him of the dangers of what he was doing and forbid him – forbid him – to go out alone again at night, but somehow she could never find the heart to do it…She reflected grimly on the old cliché that wartime, when not terrifying, was a combination of long stretches of boredom and grinding hardship.”

Paolo can’t stand doing nothing. He sneaks out at night to ride his bike through the city –the tension of breaking
Jan 19, 2013 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having shared and enjoyed Shirley Hughes’s charming picture books with my two sons when they were young I was keen to read her first novel for children but not sure what to expect as this sounded such a departure from her previous work. Happily, I am able to say that this exciting story set during the Second World War did not disappoint.

Unlike most WW2 stories for this age group this book is set in Italy in 1944 and the author makes use of her personal experience of Florence and the surrounding
Ms. Yingling
May 21, 2014 Ms. Yingling rated it liked it
Paolo lives outside of Florence, Italy with his sister Costanza and his British mother, Rosemary. His father has been gone for a long time, working with the Partisans who are fighting against the Nazis during World War II. Life is largely dull because school has been canceled and there are always curfews, so Paolo likes to sneak out on his bicycle. During one trip, he is approached by Partisans who want to contact his mother. The family ends up sheltering a British and a Canadian soldier who are ...more
Jul 03, 2013 Julia rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 30, 2012 Caren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, ya
I love Shirley Hughes' many picture books. In fact, "Dogger" has long been one of my favorites. So, when I saw that she had written her first novel, I was eager to read it. I was not disappointed. Some years ago, when I home-schooled, we used a curriculum which taught history largely by way of reading historical novels. This was a wonderful approach because stories stick in your mind so much more readily than do dry facts and dates. This book would be a wonderful addition to such a curriculum. M ...more
May 09, 2013 Sarah-Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received my introduction to Shirley Hughes through an advance reading copy (ARC) of “Hero On a Bicycle” from Candlewick Press and Goodreads Fristreads.

In my opinion “Hero On a Bicycle” was written for a reader who is in the range of eight to twelve years old. As an adult reader I did find it overly simplistic and would have enjoyed greater character and plot development. Putting that aside and keeping in mind the target audience I did enjoy the novel and the overall story.

Shirley Hughes crea
Check this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.

This was a really nice story about a family living in Fascist Italy during World War II. For a book geared toward grades four to six, the author made the surprising decision to tell this story in alternating third-person limited point of view. The transitions between character perspectives were seamless and provided greater insight into what 13-year-old Paolo and his mother and sister went through as they dealt with harassment from Nazis and
It’s 1944 in Florence, and the city is on edge. The streets are overrun with the Gestapo and other Nazis, though the Allies are on their way. In addition, the local Partisans are starting to come out of the woodwork to help the Allies. Thirteen year old Paolo lives with his big sister Constanza and his English mother Rosemary; his Italian father, an opponent of fascism, has disappeared. Desperate for something to do, both to entertain himself and get involved in the action, Paolo has taken to ri ...more
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Shirley Hughes is the illustrator of more than two hundred children’s books and has won many prestigious awards, including the Kate Greenaway Medal twice. She is the author-illustrator of DON'T WANT TO GO! and OLLY AND ME 1 2 3. She lives in London.
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