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The Winter War

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  191 Ratings  ·  45 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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Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
A reminder of what Stalin was doing during World War II.
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
May 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
May 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good story about a young Finnish boy during the Finnish war against Russia in 1939-40. A must read about a war that gets little attention outside of Finland!
Margo R
I've discovered that my tolerance for violence has been getting lower and lower. Which made reading The Winter War a struggle, not because Durbin includes vivid descriptions of carnage, but because his brief, blunt descriptions are the kind of thing that stick with you.

The Winter War between Finland and Russia in 1940 is not a topic often taught in schools. It is a complex one -- on the one hand, approximately 300k Finnish soldiers managed to hold off a Russian force 3 times theirs that possess
Linh Hoang
Oct 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: advisory
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Charles  van Buren
David and Goliath in the snow

Even though this book was written for older children and teens, I enjoyed it. It is an accurate representation of Finland's Winter War against the U.S.S.R. in the winter of 1939-1940. This war began when Stalin and his henchmen claimed that tiny Finland attacked the U.S.S.R. Using this phony provocation as an excuse, the Soviets invaded Finland with more than a million men. They would need more before it was over. In his memoirs, Kruchev claimed that the Soviet Union
Apr 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Judith Weaver
Jan 31, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Katy Berg
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely outstanding when it comes to a Young Adult literature (yes, I'd classify this as YA). It delivers emotional punches in a way that makes you feel the pain of the characters. There are many shocks and twists that start from the very beginning and don't stop until the last page. This makes you feel the horrors of war like never before. Williams brings his A game in this like never before. I'd really would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a book with real subs ...more
Jul 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Int'l librarian
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
Laurel Deloria
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bravery
The novel recounts the day-to-day events of the war between Germany and Russia in Finland. With Finlanders hating the Russians, they fought on the side of the Germans, and the Russians with their military strength just kept killing and killing inspite of the superiority of the Finnish army. This war is told in telling and dramatic detail.
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
Jul 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was about the war between Russia & Finland in 1939, just before WW2. I didn't know about any of this conflict until reading this book, so it was very informative and interesting. If I didn't already have so much to do, I would look up more information about this war!
Marko has a lame leg due to polio, but insists on joining the war at the front when given the opportunity. This story although fictionalized describes what was is like (anywhere) but especially in a typical below zero climat
Dec 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, historicalfiction
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.
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommend
I purchased this for my 11 year old grandson who is a voracious reader. He especially likes historical fiction and non-fiction as well as fantasy books. I decided to read it in advance to be sure there was no sex, profanity, etc in it. It was written for young adults, but I totally enjoyed it and learned about a part of WWII that I never learned in history class. Would definitely recommend for mature young adults, old adults and everyone in between.
Oct 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I thought the book had a lot of detail, which means it had a lot of realistic things in it like, people fighting and the planes bombing and crashing. I really liked how the author put a set of characters in the book not knowing what was going on. Another thing that I saw that the author did was not tell us what war was happening or when it was until did later on. I liked it at the end when everything was ok again and a peace treaty was signed.
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.
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
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)!
Feb 01, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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English 11 4 A/C: The Winter War 2 6 Oct 04, 2012 10:51AM  
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William Durbin is an author and teacher who lives at the edge of Minnesota's Boundary Waters Wilderness. The winner of both the Great Lakes Book Award and the Minnesota Book award, Mr. Durbin has published numerous books for young readers. Mr. Durbin has also published poetry and essays, and has supervised writing research projects for the NCTE, Middlebury College, and the Bingham Trust for Charit ...more
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