- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Children's LiteratureA fictionalized story set in World War II is well served in Louise Borden's first-person narrative combined with Niki Daly's subdued and wintry palette of the Dutch landscape. A young skater named Piet has always admired the first man to skate the route now immortalized in the "Eleven Towns Race" that takes place in the Netherlands. He suddenly has a chance to use his skating skills to accompany two children whose father has been taken by the Germans. Their mother is sending them to relatives for safety and has asked him to skate the canals with them from Sluis (rhymes with voice) across the Belgian border to relatives. The dramatic story shows Piet's courage, his ability to avoid detection, and the ways the children keep up their spirits on the long skate (the record for the 200 kilometer race is slightly under thirteen hours). Although there is no suggestion that Piet's accomplishment is based on a real event, it reads like one complete with an "After the War" section and readers would have been well-served by a note saying exactly what is real and what is made up. There are, however, informative short historical notes, both on the race itself, and on skates and skate making, which end the story. Daly uses reddened browns and grays and the vast panorama of the flattened landscape and canal routes to create a fine sense of place. This book belongs alongside other picture book treatments of World War II incidents, such as Candace Fleming's Boxes for Katje, which is also set in the Netherlands, as an introduction to the period for upper elementary and middle school studies. It is also an excellent companion to novels personal courage in World War II, such as Lois Lowry's Numberthe Stars. 2004, McElderry Books, Ages 9 to 12.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.