Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier (1956)

In my memory, Miss Coralie Shull read this aloud to our fourth grade class.  I think that about quite a few books from my childhood, but I don't think that can be completely true.  That is all we would have done is read aloud all year long, the amount of books I "remember" her reading!  (I also designed another planet in her class as well, full of fantastic creatures; that in my mind are colorful crayon blobs of green and pink; that is probably where my love of science fiction and aliens started). 

I've read and re-read Serraillier's book too many times to county.  The picture above is one I found on the internet; that is what my original copy looked like - now long disappeared.  Why wasn't I more careful with my books?

I recently purchased a hard copy book club version from the 1950s with the original title The Silver Sword.  I didn't even know there were two titles for many years.  I wonder why they changed the title?  Escape from Warsaw sounds more exciting, I guess. 

For a book I've read so many times, you think I would never get anything new out of it - but I realized this time that the children meet and are helped by a Russian soldier, a British soldier, a family whose German sons were killed in the fighting, and an American soldier.  One from each side of the war.  I don't know who I didn't catch that for all of these years. 

The Silver SwordThe Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first discovered this book, under a different title (Escape From Warsaw in fourth grade, and have loved it ever since. Re-reading it as an adult hasn't diminished that love. Ruth, Bronia, Edek and Jan make their way through a destroyed post World War II Europe from Poland to Switzerland, in search of their lost father and mother. Along the way, they are helped by soldiers and civilians from all sides of the conflict - a Russian, a British officer, a German farmer, and an American soldier and son of Polish immigrants. A message of peace, fellowship and humanity ring true throughout the book; if only Serraillier's faith in his fellow humans continued to ring true. I remember being enchanted and thrilled by scenes in the book as a child; I still was as a forty-something man.

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