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on 23 July 2011
this is possibly the worst book i have ever read. It jumps from the space of two years in two pages and ten minutes in 3 chapters. Don't buy this book whatever you do!
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on 2 January 2014
This Book was the best I have ever Read, i haven't found any books i really like until the kindle, its just amazing

The Book is set in world War II and I was recommended it By my Dad, I find stories about the war, very interesting, and love them; My Dad read this Book when he was my age (14) and loved it.

It is amazing how you can even imagine that your there, and because of the such amazing Descriptions and Laungage, it Created an amazing sense of atmosphere, so that you could imagine the scene in your own way and have your own clear idea in your head of what the Characters Look Like.

What I love about Ian Serraillier's Writing is the way that the could have happened in the War and have happened in the same sort of way maybe.

EVery Part of the book was adventurous and made me so en-grossed in the book i couldn't put it down and read it in a day! :) One of my Favourite parts of the book was the escape from the american zone in germany, into switzerland, when Edek and Jan in one double canoe, and Bonia and Ruth Sharing a single, when they had to canoe the river without been seen, but when ruth's canoe struck ashore, and american solider grabbed an ore, and wasn't expecting her to let go but she did and they escaped un-harmed.

At The end of the book there is an Afterword about the book, and how Ian Came up with the idea, this included information, such as he was a teacher at a school and the book took five long summer holidays to complete, and tells you of how the ideas came about and pictures and news about the book.

I would recommend this book to anyone and read it again many times!

Andrew Callaghan :)
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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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on 14 August 2015
Wooden prose, lots of historical inaccuracies, cardboard characters. I know that this is a book for children or teenagers, but there are books for the same age group that can be beautifully written AND be historically accurate AND have three-dimensional characters. For example, "Kidnapped" by Robert Louis Stevenson.

1. The children's mother is deported from Poland to Germany as forced labour in spite of being a Swiss citizen (neutral country during WWII).

2. The children's father is interned in a Nazi camp and finds Russian prisoners there in 1940 (when Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union were allies).

3. A 13-year old keeps a rifle at home in German-occupied Warsaw and can shoot as a sharpshooter at night.

4. A 18-year old Polish girl, a group of children and a friendly Russian soldier chat (in what language?) and the girl says in earnest about the Russians that "they have come to set us free and look after us". In 1945. After the Ribbentrop - Molotov pact to share the spoils of Poland. After Katyn. After the deportation of thousand of Polish citizens to Siberia. After Stalin's orders to the Red Army to stand aside while the Germans crushed the Warsaw uprising (a nice way of getting rid of Polish patriots)....

5. The war ends, borders are redrawn and a huge exodus that involves millions of refugees starts. How is that described in the book?
"(The train) was crowded with refugees. They leaned from the windows, stood on footboards, lay on the carriage roofs. Ruth's family was in one of the open trucks, which was cold but not quite so crowded".
"(In Berlin, shortly after the end of the war) In spite of the crowded conditions, all was quite and orderly in the hall."
"Some villages refused to admit them, having neither food, not shelter for any more refugees. But for the most part they met with kindness and were not refused food if it could be spared."
So, it seems that it was a bit of a nuisance, but a not a big deal. Compare it with "Suite Francaise" by Irene Nemirovsky.

5. "His present instructions were to round up all Polish and Ukrainian refugees in the area and dispatch them home in the American lorries provided. Most of them (and there were a considerable number lurking in the hills and villages) were only too glad to be going home, but there were some who, like the family, had their reasons for not returning". That's how the book describes the forced deportation of thousands to the Soviet Union, many of whom ended up as slaves in the Soviet GULAG.

6. A chimpazee runs away from the Berlin zoo and is captured by one of the children. The episode occupies some 7 of the 170 pages of the book.

To sum it up, avoid it. If there aren't that many books for children and teenagers about WW2, maybe there's a reason. It is just too dark, too horrible for them. Let's them grow up and read something better when they are adults instead of feeding them this very poor attempt of a novel.
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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 30 January 2012
As an 11-year-old, I read the novel The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier and got great enjoyment from it. I considered The Silver Sword to be a great story for the following reasons. War stories in one form or another were a big part of my youth. A war story about children made it a particularly thrilling tale. This story centers on the concerns of children struggling with dangerous and difficult circumstances in war-torn Europe in an attempt to be reunited with their parents. The story has a lot of realism for the child reader showing the consequences of war beyond the actual fighting. But The Silver Sword is also an adventure story. All of these factors contributed to the excitement I felt in reading the story.
The silver sword itself, a narrative device to link the story together, gives the whole story a powerful symbolism. Using the silver sword in this way was something that really impressed me about the story. It represented the children's struggle of hope over misery, success over failure; the struggle against injustice, the great injustice that befell so many in war-torn Europe. My child's mind understood that in the midst of great suffering, tragedy and misery it was still possible for individual souls to find justice. In fact, The Silver Sword reaffirmed my childlike belief in the overall goodness of the human spirit and in the belief that justice can be delivered to those who persevere in search of it. I remember feeling these things very deeply though I couldn't have used these words to describe my reaction as a child.
A good children's story is one that encourages a child to pick up another book in the hope of finding the next good one. A great children's story is one that makes the child hunt hungrily for another like it. I searched eagerly for the magic of The Silver Sword in other books. I searched for that magic right through to my adulthood and am still searching for such stories. Occasionally, I find one.
The thoughts and feelings the story generated in me have stayed with me all the way through my childhood and into my adult life. Think about that! Through all the real trials and tribulations of my childhood - some of which had a massive impact on my young psyche and character - The Silver Sword remained a memorable part of my life's experiences.
So, of course, I really recommend this story for children from 9 upwards.
Children's author, Jerry Dunne
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on 18 May 2013
I bought The Silver Sword on my dad's recommendation, after he mentioned he'd read it many years ago in Secondary school. It made a lasting impression on him, and is a book he'll remember reading for the rest of his life.

To a child, this book and its story would be both horrifying and fascinating. It's a simple, short look at a family ravaged by war, and the lengths they'll go to to be reunited. It was first published in 1956, and because of this, it's very different to contemporary fiction. It moves at a much faster pace, and omits any superfluous description or dialogue, which results in a very quick read. Readers of Morris Gleitzman's books Once and Then will find some similarities in the narrative, and are perhaps the best examples of a similar reading level.

I warmed to the Balicki family very quickly, and followed their journey with bated breath. I find that nothing is more devastating than thinking of children caught up in the Second World War, and stories about such things never fail to strike a chord with me. Ruth, Edek, Bronia and Jan are all shining examples of stubborn, headstrong children, with an astounding amount of bravery and a belief that they'll find their missing parents.

Serraillier chose to focus more on the children's journey, which isn't as perilous as it could have been given that a war was raging througout Europe. His story isn't as shocking as other war fiction I've read, which does mean that the more interesting side of the history is often glossed over. It's perfectly understandable, as this is a book for younger readers, who shouldn't be well-versed in the true horrors of war until they can handle it.

Published just eleven years after the end of the war, The Silver Sword was ahead of its time, and was used for both educational and recreational purposes. As a war text, it's not the most informative, but as a story about what it was like to be a child and survive, it's a veritable source of accuracy. I think it's a book that will be read for years to come, and although it's not one often mentioned, I don't think it'll ever be forgotten.

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on 21 September 1999
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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on 16 November 2000
Set in Poland during the Second World War, this story tells of a family broken up by the Nazi invasion who struggle to be reunited. When the parents of three children are taken away by the Germans, the children realise they are going to have to journey to Switzerland if they ever want to be reunited with their mother an father. There journey will be long and arduous not to mention dangerous, and is a story of real determination. It is a beutifully written book which is easy and short enough for children to read, understand and enjoy. There is no better book to get children or younger teenagers interested in reading books - infact many adults may find it engrossing and enjoyable too! As a fifteen year old who has read this book twice, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this title. It would be the perfect book for a bedtime story - the only problem would be, neither the parentg or the child would ever want to put it down. A must have, thankyou for your time.
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on 23 May 2001
As soon as I had finsished this book, I was so disappointed. Not because of a poor storyline, or a rubbish ending, but simply because I had finished it. I felt so engaged with the characters, that I felt there shouldn't be an end to the book; it should just go on forever. This is a truely remarkable book. I mixes heart-pumping adventure, as well as an insight into human emotions, and how people respond under the most immense pressure - of which many of us will never feel. I know sequels are never as good as the originals, but I wish Ian Serraillier could write such an inspirational piece just one more time.
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