Monday, March 26, 2012

Sharing A Favorite Author

The Greatest Skating Race:
A World War II Story from the Netherlands

by Louise Borden
illustrated by Niki Daly

After four school years of reading our way through American history, we are bringing our study to a close this spring.  The closer we get to modern times, the more difficult it has been to find high-quality literature to represent the time period.  World War II is the exception.  There are so many choices that it is hard to narrow it down! 

One of our selections was this story by Louise Borden.  Written for children ages 9 and up (though my 5- and 7-year-olds were also captivated), it is part ambition, part danger, part suspense.  I read to the kids at the table while they were coloring in their Bible memory books.  They finished their pages before I reached the half-way point of the story book and I contemplated stopping and picking up the narrative the next day, but the story had already captured us. 

Yet, while we were caught up in the story of three young children trying to cross the Dutch/Belgian border without arousing the suspicions  of German soldiers, we were also soaking up a history lesson. There is the gently introduction to labor camps. There is a simple geography and pronunciation lesson.  (Gavin, 9, was especially interested in the map at the beginning of the book.)  The story discusses the origins of the Elfstedentocht, the speed skating race that is still held in the very coldest of the Netherland's winters.

I always say that the very best children's book not only interests the child but also the adult who is reading the story to them. 

Time and again, we have been drawn to Louise Borden's books because of their rich, fascinating stories.  Throughout our study of American history, we have read Sleds on Boston Common: A Story from the American Revolution, Good-Bye, Charles Lindbergh, and The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II, all by Borden.  It is always a successful day when we read a good book and no one realizes we've "done school."

What book has captured you or your children recently?  

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{Why not take a minute, too,  to visit Elise, originator of Children's Book Monday?}  


  1. This week we are reading Duck on a Bike, and How do dinasours eat there food? they both come with a cd its really cute.

    My older boys are reading Hunger Games, we will go see the movie next week.

  2. We are reading House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert deJong, to go along with our study of Asia. We chose this book because we were captivated by The Wheel on the School (by the same author) as we studied Europe.

    (House... is not as "light" a read as Wheel.... We'll let you know what we think when we finish reading.)


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