'If you meet Ruth or Edek or Bronia, you must tell them I'm going to Switzerland to find their mother. Tell them to follow as soon as they can’
Having lost their parents in the chaos of war, Ruth, Edek and Bronia are left alone to fend for themselves and hide from the Nazis amid the rubble and ruins of their city. They meet a ragged orphan boy, Jan, who treasures a paperknife - a silver sword - which was entrusted to him by an escaped prisoner of war. The three children realise that the escapee was their father, the silver sword a message that he is alive and searching for them. Together with Jan they begin a dangerous journey across the battlefields of Europe to find their parents.
BACKSTORY: Read a letter from the author's daughter and find out about the amazing true stories that inspired The Silver Sword.
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One of the great and enduring tales of survival, courage and hope. Ian Serrailler tells this extraordinary wartime story simply and directly, so that we feel the full force of its truth -
As a child I was tremendously moved by Ian Serrailer's The Silver Sword; the combination of childhood heroism in a bleak and horrific environment left me with many questions about the dichotomy of good and evil, as well as the importance of loyal friendship -
One of the most exciting books I've read for a long while - Daily Telegraph
Old-fashioned storytelling about courage at its best - The Times
One of the most remarkable children's books since 1945 -
So what makes these different to any other set of classics? In a moment of inspiration Random House had the bright idea of actually asking Key stage 2 children what extra ingredients they could add to make children want to read. And does it work? Well, put it this way...my 13-year-old daughter announced that she had to read a book over the summer holiday and, without any prompting, spotted The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas...and proceeded to read it! Now, if you knew my 13-year-old daughter, you would realise that this is quite remarkable. She reads texts, blogs and tags by the thousand - but this is the first book she has read since going to high school, so all hail Vintage Classics! - National Association for the Teaching of English
Ian Serraillier was born in London in 1912, the eldest of four children. When he was only six years old, Ian's father died, and as his mother was often not very well, he looked after his younger siblings, especially during their long summer holidays in Switzerland. After university, he became a teacher and a writer. When the Second World War broke out, Ian refused to fight, because he believed it is wrong to kill another person. Many people who believed this were sent to prison, but fortunately Ian was allowed to continue to teach. After the war, the newspapers were full of picture of the ruined cities of Europe, and the children who had been orphaned or made homeless by the war. Ian was determined to tell their story. Ruth, Edek, Jan and Bronia are all based on real children, and even the silver sword paper knife was real. Ian Serraillier wrote many children's books but The Silver Sword is his most famous and most beloved, and it has never been out of print.