Introduced by Anne Fine
Illustrated by Raul Allen
This much-loved story of refugee children making their way from Poland to Switzerland in the final days of the Second World War is illustrated by Raul Allen and introduced by Anne Fine.
Three Polish siblings – Ruth, Edek and Bronia – are fending for themselves in the outskirts of Warsaw towards the end of the Second World War. Having received a message from their father, the three children, together with an orphan Jan, make their way across Europe to find their parents in Switzerland. With them is a talisman: a silver letter-opener in the shape of a sword, salvaged from the ruins of their house.
‘One of the most exciting books I’ve read for a long while’
First published in 1956 (and titled Escape from Warsaw in the United States), The Silver Sword has been described by the Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature as ‘one of the most remarkable books since 1945’. Hungry, homeless and separated from their parents, the children face great trials before finding their way home. But they also learn to rely on each other, and find kindness and help in unexpected places, from the German couple who shelter them to the Russian sentry Ivan who gives Ruth pencils and paper for her school. The warm and realistic portrayal of the children and their relationships mean that young readers can identify with the characters even today.
‘Old-fashioned storytelling about courage at its best’
Ian Serraillier was a Quaker and a committed pacifist, and a conscientious objector during the Second World War. His daughter Jane has shared his notes and research material with us for this edition. The endpapers, based on the author’s sketches, show a map of the children’s journey from Warsaw to Switzerland. The family was also involved in choosing former Children’s Laureate Anne Fine to write an introduction. Fine explains how ‘a book set in a foreign country, telling of an experience shared by almost none of its British readers, has come to be one of the best loved, most remembered stories of the canon.’ Jane Serraillier Grossfeld’s afterword is also included here.
'What a lovely surprise, to come back to this edition. It looks WONDERFUL ... without a doubt, the finest and most fitting illustrations of this book I have ever seen... I am proud to have been able to be part of it.'
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