Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Author: Louise Borden

The Greatest Skating Race by Louise Borden and illustrated by Niki Daly, 2004

Louise Borden has added another little known story to her collection of historical fiction. It is the year 1941 and Holland has been under Nazi control for a year. Ten year old Piet dreams of following in the footsteps of his hero, Piiim Mulier the skater who first achieved Elfstedentocht, the Eleven Towns Race.

When a family friend is taken into German custody Piet's grandfather asks the boy to take the threatened family's children, down the frozen canals, to safety across the border to Brugge, Belguim. They are hoping three children skating down the canals will not attact the attention of the German troops. The journey becomes Piet's Elfstedentocht. The cold, the exhaustion, the fear and the natural exuberance of the children are beautifully shared in this story.

Niki Daly's illustrations have an old fashioned feel. Daly has caught the feeling of the Dutch winter sky and the era with muted colors. The cover even echos the flag of The Netherlands.

The official website of the Elfstedentocht is in Dutch but there is an excellent CNN video report in English at the bottom of the page to give you an idea of the passion for the event in the Netherlands today. I loved seeing all the orange hats!

Borden's other book about WWII is The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II. Michael Foreman's lovely artwork illustrates this legendary story of bravery and determination.

A visit to her website shows she is preparing another WWII story, His Name was Raoul Wallenberg. Wow!

Her book, Sea Clocks : The Story of Longitude has been selected for the 2005-2006 Texas Bluebonnet list.

I love her books!

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