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92 Reviews
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant story of hope, determination and courage
"The Silver Sword" was written in the decade following the war and, due to his meticulous research, it took the author five years to write. Of course, in those days, you couldn't simply look at Wikipedia or Google!

The research certainly paid off as the story feels very authentic and immediate. The epic journey of the four children across war-ravaged Europe is...
Published on 20 May 2009 by Secret Spi

versus
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars easy reading
I got this to read as i had started it at school in the 70s but did not finish it.so today i finally got to finish it. found it easy to read,story is a bit too far fetched for me.things that happened always worked out fine which does not happen now never mind during ww11.so just a average mark from me.
Published 13 months ago by vek


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant story of hope, determination and courage, 20 May 2009
This review is from: The Silver Sword (Paperback)
"The Silver Sword" was written in the decade following the war and, due to his meticulous research, it took the author five years to write. Of course, in those days, you couldn't simply look at Wikipedia or Google!

The research certainly paid off as the story feels very authentic and immediate. The epic journey of the four children across war-ravaged Europe is told in short, gripping chapters. The characterisation is good, from the children themselves to the various characters they meet on their way. No-one is perfect and there are friends and enemies on both "sides". And even though the theme of the book is quite heavy, there are lighter moments,too, particularly some of the antics of Jan and his animal companions.

Perhaps what I like best about this book is its basic belief in humanity and its ultimate message of hope. Ian Serraillier was a pacifist and his belief in the ultimate good of mankind comes through this book, along with a feel of the senselessness of war. I wanted to read my son a book about the war and its effect on the people of Europe. There are many good books for children about the war from a UK perspective but this is one of the few that is set in Europe and devoid of the usual caricatures and cliches.

An excellent story for children aged 8 or 9 plus.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Silver Sword - An Inspiration, 27 April 2010
By 
SarniaMan (Sark, Channel Islands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Silver Sword (Paperback)
I received a copy of this book as a form prize at St Peters School, Weston-super-Mare, in the late 1950s. I wasn't an avid reader and was mildly disappointed to receive a book rather than a fountain pen. As prize-giving was at the end of term I took the book home for the holidays. At what point during the hols I started to read it I can't recall. But I remember being mesmerised from the moment I picked it up. It was the first book I'd ever read that left such a lasting impression. I have re-read the book over the years and still marvel at the wonderful prose style that first hooked me. It is sad, funny, inspiring, gripping and, above all, a triumph of hope over adversity. It inspires me still and is as relevant in 2010 as it was 50+ years ago. Children and adults alike will find this book rivetting.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed this exciting book., 21 Sep 1999
By A Customer
I thought the Silver Sword was very exciting to read as a book.What made it particularly good was the fact that the story was based on real life people. The story is about the Balicki family who got separated during the Second World War when the Germans took over Poland and who try to find each other afterwards.The character I most liked was Jan who was a very rough boy. Jan was not a memeber of the Balicki family but it was he who helped them to find each other.Jan loved animals and was very tricky.One of my favourite events was when Edek shot the German soldier in the arm.I found it fairly easy to read and to understand.The children who would enjoy this book are boys and girls aged 9 to 12.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My best ever read story, 25 Jun 2004
This review is from: The Silver Sword (Paperback)
I really enjoyed reading the Silver Sword and I thought it was a great book. I would recommend the book to children between the ages of 9-14, who are interested in the war or anybody who likes a great adventure story.
The story is about the Balicki family- Ruth, Edek and Bronia- who are separated from their parents, Joseph and margrit, when Germany invaded Poland during 1939-1945.
In the war they meet a boy called Jan who comes along with them to Switzerland to be reunited with their parents.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Silver Sword, 29 Jun 2005
This review is from: The Silver Sword (Paperback)
We would recommend this book to anyone who likes a gripping story, it is suitable for all ages.We really enjoyed this story and thought it was easy to imagine yourself as one of the characters.Along the way, you feel as if you're dealing with the situations that the children experience.
Every time you read it, you'll get something from it. As we know from our teacher.
This story,based on reality, is action packed from start to finish.
The Silver Sword is about determined children,split up from their parents and their adventures during the war as they travel to Switzerland.
The story begins with the dramatic escape of Joseph Balicki from Zakyna prison camp and continues with his quest to be reunited with his family.
Within the book many unpredictable and different characters appear and become either friends or enemies of the children.
Will the brave Balickis be succesful in their mission or will they fail? You'll have to read it to find out!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A charming reminder of my childhood, 16 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Silver Sword (Kindle Edition)
It is more than forty years since I last read it, though it was one of my favourites as a child. I What a delight re-reading it proved to be.

The book tells of the travails of the Balicki family from Warsaw. The father, Joseph, headmaster of a local school, is imprisoned by the Nazis after someone reports him for turning the photograph of Hitler that he had been required to hang in his classroom to face the wall. Shortly afterwards his wife, Magrit, is also interned, leaving their three children (Ruth, Edek and Bronia) to fend for themselves.

After a couple of years Joseph manages to escape from his prison and returns to Warsaw to look for his family. He finds the family home reduced to rubble. Aghast he delves down to see if he can unearth any trace of the family but all he finds is a paper knife, in the shape of an elaborate small silver sword that he had given to his wife several years earlier. While staring in disgust at the remains of the house he becomes aware that he is being watched by a young boy, Jan, clutching a cat while. After a brief conversation (during which the young boy successfully picks Joseph's pockets) Joseph hands over the silver sword to Jan in return for a promise that he will do whatever he can to find a trace of Magrit or the children. Jan stows the sword away in a wooden box in which he keeps all of his dearest treasures (which include, among other things, the shrivelled body of a dead lizard). Joseph explores the remaining streets of the community searching for clues as to what might have happened to his family. Finding no trace he decides to head for Switzerland (where Magrit came from), in the belief that she would have tried to flee there to escape their oppressors.

Meanwhile the three children have been fending for themselves until Edek is arrested by the Nazis for smuggling food to be sold through the black market. Ruth starts running an informal school to try to teach some of the Polish children, and eventually Jan comes to join them - by now his cat has gone, to be replaced by Jimpy, a cockerel. By chance the three children find that Jan has the silver sword which they immediately recognise. Jan explains how he came by it, adding that Joseph had told him about his plans to seek his family in Switzerland. The story then deals with the children's exploits firstly to locate Edek, and then to try to cross Poland and then Germany to try to reach Switzerland.

The book is now recognised as a children's classic, though on its publication in 1956 there was a lot of criticism suggesting that the novel dealt with subjects too serious for younger readers. This seems odd nowadays - after all, Serraillier weaves a very sound plot and his characters are finely drawn. Even though the context may now seem very remote to today's children, surely this is exactly the sort of books that they should be reading. It holds up excellently for an adult audience, too.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read, 23 July 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Silver Sword (Paperback)
I read this book many years ago when I was 8. I was looking through some old books the other day and came across it again.
I remember reading it then quite vividly. It paints the war and what people had to live with in a way which a younger person can grasp. It doesn't focus on events but rather on the coherence that children try to build out of the cahos that is war.
A beautifully told story which made me think when I was younger but is still of interest now. It deserves to be considered a classic.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Childhood memories, 18 Jan 2006
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This review is from: The Silver Sword (Paperback)
When at junior School,(some 20 or more years ago)we had a book club from which we could purchase. One of the first i ever chose was the silver sword. I am the biggest bookworm imaginable, and I loved that book. Even as an adult I would read it when I had "nothing else" to read, althought i guess that was never strictly true. I read it and read it and stuck it back together with sticky tape and read it some more untill there was nothing left of it to read. I would thouroughly recomend it to every child and grown up and every english teacher in the world. Life is not complete without the silver sword.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, 10 Aug 2012
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Silver Sword (Paperback)
Recently one of my grandchildren (age 10 years) gave me a copy of a book he described as "great" and he recommended I read it - it was `The Silver Sword'. I told him I'd read it an age ago and confirmed I'd also found it great, and I was able to inform him how the book is well known to our family. My father was a teaching colleague of author Ian Serraillier (Wycliffe College, Gloucestershire) and they holidayed together (Cairngorms and Stubai Alps,Austria) before WWII. My father was proud of his friend's literary achievements and he introduced me and my 5 brothers to possibly his best children's story - `The Silver Sword'. I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading, and I was delighted to find the book still in print with an `Afterword' by Jane Serraillier Grossfield - daughter of the author. She presents insights to how her father wrote the book over a period of 5 years, and she explains her father's Quaker beliefs and conscientious objection to war. Her revelations confirmed what I remembered about `The Silver Sword' as a well-structured exciting and moving account written in a clear style (possibly a bit old fashioned today) that immediately grips young readers and opens their eyes to the terrifying realities of war. `The Silver Sword' is a classic that deserved 5-star rating when first published in 1956, and it still deserves 5-star rating as this Red Fox paperback edition.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best book I have ever read, 25 Jun 2004
This review is from: The Silver Sword (Paperback)
The Silver Sword is a really good book and I would recommend it to 9 year olds and adults that are interested in the Second World War.
The story is set in the Second World War and is about four children- Ruth, Edek and Broinia - they are the Baliki children. When Edek is taken to a labour camp Ruth and Bronia meet Jan/Yan who becomes like a brother to them, and he loves animals.
While they were in Berlin Jan /Yan meets a monkey called Bistro and is the only one who can calm him down. I think that Jan /Yan is a really good character and he is really cheeky and is the best person to deal with animals because he really understands them.
The book is based on a real life story and is a really great book. I think that people who were in the Second World War would love this book as they can find out how other people coped. I was really moved when the children are reunited with their parents again, especially considering all that they go through.
I recommend that you go out and buy the book NOW!
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The Silver Sword
The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier (Paperback - 3 April 2003)
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