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The Silver Sword

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  5,650 ratings  ·  471 reviews
The silver sword became the symbol of hope and courage which kept four deserted and starving children alive through the years of occupation, and afterwards on the search to find their parents, and is based on a true story.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published July 26th 1973 by Puffin (first published 1956)
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Keith As far as I can recall, they're not, at least not the Balicki children. Their father is a teacher who is arrested for removing or reversing the…moreAs far as I can recall, they're not, at least not the Balicki children. Their father is a teacher who is arrested for removing or reversing the portrait of Hitler he's required by the occupying Germans to put up in his classroom; if they were Jewish he and the rest of the family would have been sent to the Warsaw Ghetto just for that. It's possible that Jan, the last member of the group, could have been from a Jewish family, since his background is never really revealed.(less)
Little House Yes, this is a great book for children. Even my sensitive readers would be able to handle this one. No main characters die, no torture or cruelty is…moreYes, this is a great book for children. Even my sensitive readers would be able to handle this one. No main characters die, no torture or cruelty is described, and it has a happy ending. I would recommend this one to any child who has the reading ablitity to read it. (Okay, maybe not for a sensitive four or five year old, but above that it should be fine.)(less)

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really liked it 4.00  · 
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Rebecca McNutt
I remember the first time I bought this book. I was nine years old and had just discovered the joy of Scholastic school book order forms (back when you could still order brand-new books for yourself by mail for only four dollars with no shipping costs), and Escape from Warsaw was one of my first. It's a novel which is based on true accounts, but what really makes it hit home as an important story is how realistic the characters are, and how they could easily be just like you or me. WWII was quit ...more
I first read Ian Serraillier’s novel The Silver Sword when I was 12. All these years later I had vague memories of what the story was about, but very vivid memories of having loved it. We read it in school and so it wasn’t a book that I’d actually come across elsewhere. One day, while perusing the selection at Book Closeouts I came across the book and decided to order it. I wondered, after all these years, if it would stand up. Some childhood books do and some don’t.

The Silver Sword is the story
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
The Silver Sword is the story of the Balicki family, Joseph and his Swiss wife Margrit and his daughter Ruth, 13, and Bronia, 3, and son, Edek, 11. In 1940, they are living in a Warsaw suburb in Poland during the Nazi occupation of that country, where Joseph is the headmaster in a primary school.

One day while teaching, Joseph turns a picture of Hitler so it faced the wall. His action is reported to the Nazi authorities by a student. Joseph is arrested and sent to a prison camp in Zakyna. He spe
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Silver Sword is an epic tale of a family who were separated when the Nazi’s invaded Poland in 1940. The story centres on the Balicki family, who consisted of the mother Margrit, the father Joseph and their 3 young children; Ruth, Bronia and Edek. With their father taken to a prison camp and their mother captured as a slave, the three children were left to fend for them self in a country ravaged by the Nazis.
The name of the book, ‘The Silver Sword’ is significant, as this sword belonged to J
Kellyn Roth
Escape from Warsaw by Ian Serraillier, originally titled The Silver Sword, is the adventure story of a family which was separated during the war. Their father protests Nazi Germany’s tyranny and is taken to a prison camp which he later escapes from. Their mother is taken away to work for the Nazis. This leaves Ruth, Edek, and little Bronia alone, trying to survive in a hostile land.

Though based on true events, the characters were made up for the purposes of this story. It was quite interesting -
Katie  Hanna
3.5 stars.

Full thoughts here (and yes, this is really my Escape from Warsaw review but the British title is The Silver Sword and I like that way better):


Aug 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Based on a true story, this novel is the story of four children travelling through war-ravaged Europe during World War Two.

I first read this novel while I was in secondary school and I recently found it again in a box of old books when I was cleaning out my attic. I remembered loving it back when I was 13 but I didn't remember much of the plot so I decided to re-read the novel.

The characters are all well developed from the children themselves to the various characters they meet on their journey
Clare Cannon
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 10-18 years
Shelves: 08-12yrs, 13-15yrs
Definitely a classic. A fast moving and personal account of Polish children searching for their parents who had been taken from them in World War II. In my opinion it's a more engaging read than I Am David.
I honestly read this book so that I could pass it on - its cover is downright atrocious.

Unfortunately - I liked it.

Totally strange and somewhat jilted writing style, surprisingly good story. (BUT SO MEAN TO THE CHARACTERS. WHY. I mean, realism, but...)
Jenny / Wondrous Reads
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I bought The Silver Sword on my dad's recommendation, after he mentioned he'd read it many years ago in Secondary school. It made a lasting impression on him, and is a book he'll remember reading for the rest of his life.

To a child, this book and its story would be both horrifying and fascinating. It's a simple, short look at a family ravaged by war, and the lengths they'll go to to be reunited. It was first published in 1956, and because of this, it's very different to contemporary fiction. It
Allison Tebo
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, ww2
This one will always have special memories for me because I remember my Mom reading aloud to me. But aside from my fond memories, it is simply a wonderful story and just as good the second time around. This book is a great introduction to younger readers about the hardships and loss of WW2 without introducing all the fine details on all the horrors and violence. A story of the every-day heroism of people trying to piece their lives back together in the middle of devastation, this author perfectl ...more
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutly loved this book. I couldn't put it down, even when I was supposed to be doing my chores. Oh well. Anyway this story was originally called The Silver Sword and if you read this book you will find out why. I loved how these three children and a friend make thier way to Switzerland from Warsaw just to get back to their family, but also keep in mind that there is also a war raging on. Wow can you imagine. This is in a way kind of like the european version of the underground railroad if y ...more
Nov 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book under its English title, 'The Silver Sword', but couldn't find this on Goodreads so had to review under the US title.

The story begins with the escape of Polish headteacher Joseph Balicki from a Nazi prison camp in the early 1940s, at the height of the Second World War. After a year unfairly imprisoned for refusing to display a picture of Hitler in his school, he has managed to escape. Over a matter of weeks, Joseph makes his way back to his home city of Warsaw, Poland with help
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, with-kids
Found this on a list of children's classics, read with daughter (11). The story of a Polish family, broken apart in WWII. The first several chapters are about the father, who escapes from prison and heads for relatives in Switzerland after returning to a rubble-strewn Warsaw. While there, he doesn't find his family but does find a young boy, who takes a Silver Sword (really a letter opener) as a token to prove who he is should he find the other children. The rest of the story is about his three ...more
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is interested in the lives of hard times
Recommended to Emily by: My school
I recently read the book 'The Silver Sword' by Ian Serraillier, through school. I really underestimated this book by the cover! ( The phrase - 'Never judge a book by its cover' proves correct! ) Because I ended up really enjoying travelling the journey of the war stricken world with Jan and the Balakis. I felt a sense of understanding for these young soals travelling the journey to Switzerland unaccompanied by family bar themselves. It made me appreciate the world and people for who and what the ...more
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I adored this book as a child and I still adore it now. Maybe it was something to do with being the eldest child (with a younger brother and sister) that ensured I fully empathised with the main character Ruth, the would be teacher. Great characterisation and storytelling meant that it was a book I could not put down and also one I would re-read over and over again. For a book set in such a difficult context (WW2) I strangely found it a comforting read and would often turn to it when feeling fed ...more
Shawn Thrasher
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 s ...more
Mckenzie Squires
This was a great book. I love learning as much as I can about war and the hardships people went through during war. Joseph Baliki has three kids Ruth, Edek and Bronia. They have a swish mother but live in Poland. Joseph is a school master before the war but is taken away from his school and family. A few days later the Nazi's come back for Mrs. Baliki. The children have to escape before the Nazi's come back for them. I wish there was a movie to go along with the book. It could be a nice movie if ...more
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this while at school in high school. My class had a lot of students whose parents had emigrated to Australia after the war and I believe that the school put this on the reading list to foster understanding and tolerance. Quite a few students were also struggling with the new language and although this was written for younger students in mind I think it was a good choice at the time. I wonder how it would stand up to a re-read, remember liking it and looking forward to the discussions about ...more
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this tale which is surprising since not everyone reds these kind o books these days. It has a gripping tale and characters that shine in their own ways. It features hardships, courage and determination in the souls of children as their desperate longing for their parents and their solo willpower help them journey to Switzerland. I recommend this very much.
When I was younger I went through a World War 2 stage and read any children's book about the era that I could. "Escape From Warsaw" was undoubtedly my FAVORITE. I read it, and then read it to my siblings and then read it to myself again (and I am not one to re-read a book).
Another book I would suggest is "When the Sirens Wailed" by Noel Streatfeild
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never read this book as a child. It's a great story, a mix of adventure, history, the rudeness and the amazing serendipity of life and the beautiful people you meet along the way. The portrayal of the family bond was comforting.
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that I read as a child, maybe 9 years old, and loved enough to have remembered it ever since. So 5 stars!
The Silver Sword is a story featuring the Balicki family that's based on true events during the Nazi occupation of Poland in 1940 during WW2. The family become separated when the father is taken to a prison camp for refusing to put up a portrait of Hitler in the school classroom that he works in, and the mother is taken by the Gestapo in the middle of the night. This terrifying situation leaves behind the three Balicki children (aged 13, 11 and 3), who must now try to survive in a country that i ...more
Rebecca Douglass
scape from Warsaw is a children's war story, and written less than a decade after the end of WWII. This lends a certain immediacy to the story which is, I think, offset for modern readers by the somewhat distancing style. We are accustomed nowadays to children's books depicting war, suffering, and despair with the same gritty realism that we (and the kids) see on the evening news. Oddly, in this period so soon after so many children had lived through events most of us can't even imagine, few wri ...more
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, ww2
3.5 stars.

Mum bought this for me from a secondhand bookshop on a road trip when I was in primary school, and I loved it (I think I also got gastro on that trip and it was a good distraction from the puking!).

I found it again when moving house and figured I’d give it a reread as an adult.

A bit simplistic and optimistic from an adult’s point of view, but still a wonderful story and engaging plot.
A brilliant novel depicting the challenges and triumphs of a family of children as they travel through war torn Poland to reach Switzerland. The details provided in this book are both accurate and astonishing. Written from the perspective of the children, younger audiences will be able to identify with them to a degree, further enhancing their understanding of the extreme circumstances that these children found themselves in. Would highly recommend.
Edwina Callan
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2018
Based on a true story, this is the riveting tale of 3 children in search of their parents, whom were taken away by Nazi Storm Troopers during WW2.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book for young people about some of the trials and hardships people went through during WWII.
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
A simple story but I wasn't gripped
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Ian Serraillier was a British novelist and poet. He was also appreciated by children for being a storyteller retelling legends from Rome, Greece and England. Serraillier was best known for his children's books, especially The Silver Sword (1956), a wartime adventure story which was adapted for television by the BBC in 1957 and again in 1971.
He was born in London, the eldest of four children. His f