I enjoyed reading Louise Borden's The Greatest Skating Race. Though the book has been out for ten years, I'd not come across it before. It is a wonderful picture book for older readers. I've only read a handful of picture books with a World War II setting. I'm on the look out for more. So if you know of some, please let me know in the comments! I'll try my best to review them.
Readers meet Piet, a young Dutch boy, in The Greatest Skating Race. He loves, loves, loves to skate. It would be odd if he didn't love to skate. He loves to dream about competing in the Elfstedentocht--a famous skating race, the "Eleven Towns Race." Readers learn details about the race throughout the text. But the race itself is not what this one is about. It is about the German occupation, and the ever-increasing threat to Jews.
One day, Piet's grandfather gives him a big, big task to accompany two Jewish children across the border and to their aunt's house.
Today you must be the best skater that you can be.It will be a demanding journey--physically and mentally--and perhaps a dangerous one as well. There will be soldiers and checkpoints. And they'll have to find their way to the aunt's house--a place they've never been before. So they'll have to remember the directions carefully, and not let fear confuse them.
You must be as brave as your father...wherever he is.
You must be as brave as Pim Mulier!
You must skate the main canal to Brugge,
straight as an arrow to its mark.
And you will need to race against today's sun
to get there before dark.
I want you to skate as fast as you can,
but you must look like an unimportant schoolboy.
You will take Johanna and Joop Winkelman
and help them find their Aunt Ingrid's house.
We think this is the safest way to escape from those
who may wish these friends of ours harm. (16)
The book is good! I'd definitely recommend it.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews