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Greatest skating race: a World War II story from the Netherlands

by Borden, Louise


The Greatest Skating Race : A World War II Story from the Netherlands
     by Borden, Louise

School Library Journal :

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Starred Review. Gr 2-5–This slice of historical fiction celebrates the bravery and resourcefulness of children. In the winter of 1941, 10-year-old Piet, a strong skater, is enlisted to lead his two young neighbors from Holland to safety over the ice to relatives in Belgium after their father is arrested for sending messages to the allied forces. The three children leave their home in Sluis and bravely skate 16 kilometers on the canals to Brugge. They outwit and hide from German soldiers and make it to their destination in one long, difficult day. Told with immediacy and suspense from Piet's point of view, the engaging narrative is arranged in columns, which is an ideal structure to relate the action in short sentences. Readers learn about the Elfstedentocht, a 200-kilometer skating race, and the boy's hero, skater Pim Mulier. The gorgeously detailed watercolor illustrations capture a sense of the time. The subdued, winter hues of brown and smoky gray are those often found in the oil paintings of Dutch and Flemish masters and match the quiet tone of the text. The book's format maximizes the drama and expanse of the landscape. Use this picture book to introduce curricular units and to give youngsters a vivid child's-eye view of the past.–Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI

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The Greatest Skating Race : A World War II Story from the Netherlands
     by Borden, Louise

BookList :

From BookList, October 1, 2004, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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Gr. 3-6. In this exciting World War II picture book for older children, a boy in the Netherlands helps two children escape to Belgium, where they will be safe from German soldiers. Piet, 10, is inspired by his country's great skating champion, and he has always dreamed of taking part in the famous national race. Now, however, he must race with Johanna and her little brother, Joop, along the frozen canals, past German guards, and over the border to safety. Piet's long, lucid, first-person narrative appears in short dramatic lines (“I could feel the scrape of our blades against the ice / And I could feel the cold air inside my chest”), and Daly's sepia-tone illustrations stay true to the boy's viewpoint, both in the few tense, full-page close-ups (as when the children confront the border guards) and in the spacious views of the kids speeding through the white landscape. The focus on the historic skating race is sometimes confusing, but the war is always in the background, and the physical reality of the thrilling rescue will hold skating fans.
HazelRochman.

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