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The Silver Sword
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on 27 May 2015
In the suburb of Warsaw during the second world war lived a Polish family known as Balicki, Joseph Balicki was a headmaster of a local primary school and lived with his wife Margrit and children Ruth 18yrs, Edek 11yrs, Bronia 3yrs, one day Joseph was arrested and sent to Zakyna prison in early 1940, Zakyna was a terrible place to be
Joseph was determined to escape, his crime turning Hitlers picture to the wall whilst teaching a lesson, he knocked out a guard put on his uniform and walked out through the gate, it took him four and a half weeks to reach Warsaw with many trials along the way, the town was destroyed, he was told his wife had been taken to Germany to work on the land and his house had been blown up with no survivors, Joseph decided to head for Switzerland where it was agreed that if anything happened they were all to meet, in the rubble he had found a small silver sword, a small boy, Jan stood by him and was given the sword if he could find out about his children
When Margrit was taken Edek had fired at the Germans from a window, gathered the rest together and escaped over the rooftops before the house was blown
They found refuge in an old celler, Edek provided all they needed by one way or another, in the summer they moved to the woods, Edek on one of his trips for food had been caught and there was no news of him for the family, in 1945 the russians took Warsaw and Ruth and Bronia met Jan, they found out Edek was in a transit camp in Posen, Jan told them their father was in Switzerland but first they must go to Posen for Edek, they find Edek but he is very ill with TB and now 16yrs
There were many odeals that followed on the road to Switzerland, Edek is arrest and freed, Jan is put in prison for seven days, they are caught by a farmer who helped them on their way, an American soldier helps them to the borders of Switzerland, they learn their father is close
You will have to read the book to find out what happens next, all of their lives are put in danger, did they ever find their mother, what happened to Jan with no parents, what was the future of the lost and abandoned children of this war
I enjoyed the book, well worth a read
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 June 2013
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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on 29 March 2018
As a child I watched the BBC production of this book, and loved it. Really the first time I had a glimspe of the devastation Hitler and his thugs heaped upon Europe and the rest of the World during the years 1933-1945 and the fallout for all the victims thereafter.
I bought my first book of "The Silver Sword" many years ago and with many readings it has grown rather tatty, so decided to buy a replacement. Very happy to have this little gem on my book shelf to read whenever the mood takes me.
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on 31 January 2018
Brilliant story. I read this to my 6 and 8 year old grandchildren over a week's holiday. It was a journey of nostalgia for me as I'd loved this book as a child. I enjoyed it again and was really pleased my grandchildren were so fascinated and looked forward each evening to the next chapter. The story led to them asking and learning quite a bit about the Second World War. Both have now re-read the book for themselves. A big success!
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on 13 June 2017
Read this children's book because my nephews Adam aged 10 was reading it for a school home work project so as a family we all desired to read it to enjoyed it very much and glad to say great mark for his project
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on 2 January 2015
This book is truly five star. I read it first well over 25 years ago as a school girl in Africa and it made a lasting impression. In particular Jan's words, "This sword will bring me luck ..."
There is a romanticism and poetry about you. It makes you believe that even in the darkest moments things do work out. It captures the human spirit in its entirety; the brutality of war, the kindness of strangers, resilience, determination, courage, loyalty, love and even the ability to laugh when your heart is burdened and troubled.

I enjoyed the easy style in which the book was written and how every chapter presents a new challenge to the children. I liked seeing Ruth's complete dedication to her family and how she extends her caring spirit to the children around her.

Most of all I like that they all worked together to keep their spirits up and get to the end of their journey.

Heart warming.
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on 5 April 2016
Last year at School our teacher made us do a writers craft on this book. I found the part we got given captivating, so I decides to buy the book.
During the war Polish siblings Edek, Bronia, Ruth and there new friend Jan run to Switzerland. Jan believes that his sword is helping them face all the trials that they face. And when they finally reach Switzerland, Ruth finds that maybe Jan is right.
I really enjoyed this book and I think I might let me younger Sister read it when she is older, because I think she would love Ludwig. I would reccomend this book to 8-15 year old boys and girls.
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on 12 February 2018
I went to see a play adaptation of this book two years ago and decided to purchase the book to make better sense of what I saw. For essentially what can only be described as children's book, I thought The Silver Sword was an enjoyable read. Set against the backdrop of war, the journey of a group of children trying to find their way back home to their in war torn Warsaw was an interesting read.
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on 22 February 2018
This is a real classic. I purchased the kindle book and audio for my grandson who’s a reluctant reader to read without stress ... and it’s been a big success.
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on 10 November 2017
Wonderful book I read it as a kid enjoyed reading again
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