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The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story from the Netherlands Hardcover – 28 Sep 2004

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 44 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (28 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689845022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689845024
  • Product Dimensions: 27.9 x 0.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,091,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

The Greatest Skating Race In 1941, Piet, a young Dutch boy, is assigned to skate along the frozen canals of the Netherlands across the Belgian border to guide two children to their aunt's house in Brugge. They must be careful, for if the Germans discover their escape plan, the children will be in grave danger. Full color. Full description


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First Sentence
In December of 1941 I was ten years old . . . and at that time what I cared about most was skating on the frozen canals of Sluis, the town where we lived. Read the first page
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'The Greatest Skating Race' is another WW II era story written by Louise Borden, the author of 'The Little Ships: A Story of the Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk '. I chose this book because I loved the Little Ships' so much. She has written a number of non fiction books for children as well as very realistic historical fiction. This book is fiction, but is very believable, so believable in fact that I looked up the main character's name, just in case he was a real person. It gives us a glimpse into what childhood in the Netherlands under German occupation might have been like.

This story has an unlikely hero, a wee boy of only 10, Piet Janssen. The year is 1941, and the Netherlands are occupied by Germany, but a child's life does not change so very much. Piet's father is away in England with other allied troops, and the family skate shop has little business. They do not make many new pairs of skates, instead they mend old ones, and old shoes as well. It appears Britain is not the only country that had to make do and mend in these years. There is little for Christmas, Piet's mother can only give him one gift, a small red leather bound noteebook, but Piet loves this gift as it reminds him of his hero, Pim Mulier and the Elfstedentocht, a skating race. Piet traces maps and the original route of the Elfstentocht into his little book and dreams of being a great skater, like his hero.

Piet will have his chance to become a hero and prove his bravery on the silver blades sooner than he thinks, but not in the great race. Instead Piet will be asked to take two younger children across the border into Belgium after there Father is arrested for espionage. He must travel 16 kilometres in bitter cold, past German sentries with two small children.
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