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

by Louise Borden
Illustrated by Niki Daly

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2004
44 pages
ISBN: 0689845022

Ages 7-10

A story set in 1941 takes place in the Netherlands, where young Piet dreams of being a great skater like his hero Pim Mulier of the historic Elfstedentocht race fame. Pietís father is away fighting in World War II, but the very real dangers of that war are not just on far-off battlefields. Pietís country is occupied by the Germans, and when a classmateís father is arrested for owning a radio, Piet is asked to lead her and her younger brother to safety in a town in Belgium, 16 kilometers away. Piet, Johanna, and Joop must skate along the canals under the eyes of the Germans, acting as if they are just children at play. Johanna is a superb skater and Piet doesnít worry about her keeping up, but itís a struggle for young Joop. There are several tense moments made all the more difficult by the childrenís growing exhaustion as they stride toward the journeyís conclusion in Louise Bordenís dramatic and satisfying story. Niki Dalyís fine period illustrations perfectly complement the text, and an authorís note provides additional information on the history of skating in the Netherlands and the real Elfstedentocht race that was fictional Pietís inspiration on the longest skate of his young life. CCBC categories: Picture Books for School-Aged Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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