The Winter War
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The Winter War

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  127 ratings  ·  34 reviews
When the Soviet Union invades its tiny neighbor Finland in November 1939, Marko volunteers to help the war effort. Even though his leg was weakened by polio, he can ski well, and he becomes a messenger on the front line, skiing in white camouflage through the forests at night. The dark forest is terrifying, and so are the odds against the Finns: the Russians have 4 times a...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 12th 2008 by Wendy Lamb Books (first published 2008)
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Gr 5-9-In 1939 Finland, Marko serves proudly as a sky watcher, a junior member of the Civil Guard. On November 30, when Russian bombers attack his village, his best friend is killed, and his younger sister and brother must evacuate to Sweden. A chance encounter with a former teacher, now an army lieutenant, propels Marko, who still limps as a result of a bout with polio, to the front lines. His familiarity with the area around Savolahti and his orienteering skills make him an ideal clandestine m...more
The story is about Marko, a Finnish boy, who joins a Finnish army group as a messenger to fight against the USSR’s attempt to invade and take over the country of Finland in 1939. Interesting book, and especially interesting in its descriptions of how the Finns deal with very cold and snowy winters. Good explanation of Finland’s war with the Soviet Union in 1939. I’ve heard questions about why Finland sided with Germany for part of WWII; the explanation (though not detailed here since this book d...more
Regan Smith
The Winter War by: William Durbin was an intense, wonderful book. It takes place in the late 1930s and the 1940s during the Winter War against the Soviet Union and Finland. It makes you think what it was like for the people who had to live in Finland close-ish to the boarder of Russia.
Marko's life was pretty ordinary except for his polio that messed up his left leg. He had a wonderful farm, a wonderful family, and a wonderful best friend Johan. When the Russians did bomb Virtalinna the air rai...more
The Winter War is a historical fiction book about boy trying to help out his homeland during wartime. The main characters are Marko and Karl. The setting is Finland during the 1940 Winter War. Marko’s job is to alert the troops if the Soviets are coming. One day, Marko and his best friend, Johan, are keeping watch from a look out tower when they spot a Soviet airplane. They try to alert the Finnish troops and in the process Johan gets hit with one of the bombs and dies. Next, Lieutenant Juhola (...more
Connor Mcfarland
The book I read was The Winter War by William Durban. Its takes place in Finland in the years 1939-1940, so when the Soviet Union was starting to invade territories. The main character Marko is caught during the first bombing and loses his best friend Johan. So he decides to join the the Finnish army called the Civil Guard to be a messenger, but he has polio so people will think it takes a toll on his skills but does it? I think the book was very historical on the sense of the realistic battles...more
Linh Hoang
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 14, 2008 Lindsay rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: teen reluctant readers
This young adult novel covers a part of WWII that I had not heard much about. The way Durbin writes about Finland's fight against Russia reminds me of fantasy epic novels in that it is a story that seems removed from today's society. The main character has to deal with polio, temperatures so cold they stop a wounded man from bleeding to death, and a semi-recent war that required men to be athletes, rather than just operate machinery.

Winter War is such an interesting story, and it is written extr...more
Judith Weaver
So glad I grabbed this one to read. I knew nothing about Finland's brave fight against the Russians during WWII. This book gave me a new look at this war by providing a glimpse of the struggle to defend Finland against invasion, describing how the Finns used their homeland's environment to their advantage. Because it is based on facts, this makes a great read for those kids who love anything WWII. I could hand this book to easily a dozen readers tomorrow morning -- and they would love it.

I also...more
This is a good adventure, based upon an extraordinary war. 13-year-old Marko lives on the Finnish-Soviet border, the main battleground of the Winter War of 1939-40. The Finns were heavily outnumbered, but used their familiarity of the extreme conditions to hold off the Soviet attack.

Marko is a Finnish ski messenger. He witnesses some horrific battle scenes, as well as the paralyzing effect of the cold. This book does well to explain the technical problems a snowbound army must face.

I wasn’t as...more
This is an Hisorical Fiction book about the Winter War, the war between Finland and Russia in 1930-40. Michael's grandfather died one hour before the cease fire ended the war. His mother never met him. I read this as a preview for the kids to read to learn more about it. The book itself is a fine kids book---nothing too stellar if there is not a connection. It is pretty gruesome at times, but what war isn't, especially when fighting in sub-zero weather. It is such a great tale of heroics on the...more
This is a historical fiction book written for young adults. It tells the story of a young Finish boy, Marko, who volunteers to be a messenger during the Winter War with Russia even though he has been handicapped by polio and must wear a leg brace. The night missions, the bombardments that leave their ears ringing are terrifying as are the Finns odds against the Russians. For 105 days, through one of the coldest winters in history, Finland fought the Russian Army. The Finns were out numbered by f...more
This book was on my list of best new books for young adults.

The book is historical fiction, covering the war which began when the USSR invaded Finland in 1939. The point of view is that of a young teenage Finnish boy. The Finns are severely outnumbered, both in numbers of troops and equipment. However, they have strong morale and are better prepared to endure the Finnish winter than the Soviet armies. The book is very well written. I'm not usually a fan of war novels, but this one I enjoyed and...more
Marsha Wiese
No glitzy cover on this book to draw students attention, yet, it is being read. It is the story of two teens who become messengers in the courageous battle the Finns fought to over come the Russian Invasion of 1939. This is a piece of historical fiction that needs to be recommended. When it is being picked up by young people even though its cover is totally know it has special drawing power.
The story of how Finland fought off Stalin's mighty Soviet army in the winter of 1939 without help from anybody else. Protagonist Marko has mostly recovered from polio, and tho his leg brace keeps him from excelling in most sports, he can ski very well. Wanting to serve his country, he volunteers as a messenger, skiing messages between batalions. Interesting story, but the didacticism detracts from it.
WCPL Teens
A historical novel about the 1939 Soviet invasion of Finland. After witnessing his best friend's death by Soviet fire, and despite a leg crippled by polio, Marko volunteers to help in the fight. He works as a messenger on the front lines, skiing from camp to camp. Their only hope is that the Russians, who outnumber them, won't be able to survive the harsh winter.
I normally don't like to read books about war. I get so bogged down in the details and misery. But this book about the Finnish/Russian war of 1939 was really good. It is a YA book, and the story moved quickly as seen through the eyes of a Finnish teenager. I didn't know beforehand anything about this war and appreciated learning a little bit of history along the way.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Classified as young adult, I think mature J boys would enjoy this story of a 12 year old in 1930's Finland who becomes a messenger and all around handyboy on the front lines of Finland's winter war against Russia. The writing is so-so but the military action is exciting in this Newbury honor book.
Excellent. Well written. A topic not touched by any other young adult author. It was accurate down to the smallest detail. Suspenseful. I'm a bit partial b/c I'm a Finnish-American - but the best of William Durbin I've read. I felt as if I was right there! Absolutely loved it.
This book was not what I thought it was but I found it to be interesting from start to finish. It also has an “Afterword” about the The Winter War, which I also think is interesting

I think this would be a good idea for a CGI animated movie
A little know piece of human history, war between Finland and Russia. Powerful story about defending ones country, characters could have had more depth and some "revelations" are a little hard to believe. Very violent.
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ SuncloudƸ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ
i hated this book! it was way to gory and gross, so i stopped reading it at the part where a kid got bombed and they found his hands covered in blood, stuck in his gloves on the handlebars of his bike (chapter three)!
Joe B
I thought that this was one of William Durbin's better book he is a great writer and right now I am reading The Darkest Evening. He is a very compelling author and and I can't stop reading his books.
truly a great book i've read it mutibol times and still never tire of it and i catch new things every time. the truth about karl suprises me every time.
Paul Metting
This book is a good read if you like military history. I knew little about this war until my friend recommended this book. It has good description and photos.
Dec 13, 2008 Paige rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Paige by: CLAU
boy orientated; not bad but not great. The historical aspect was a nice change from the others I have been reading lately.
Young adult book about the Winter War in Finland. Good history from a balanced point of view with an interesting story.
Marko, who lives in Finland, joins the army to defend his country. He has a gimp leg from polio.

Historical Fiction
This has been classed as YA, but I felt it skewed young even for a war story. Predictable, but not terrible.
Bunny Maurer
I liked it from the historical perspective but I believe it was written for a young adult.
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English 11 4 A/C: The Winter War 2 6 Oct 04, 2012 10:51AM  
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