Escape from Warsaw
post written by Esther Filbrun
Title: Escape from Warsaw (or The Silver Sword)
Author: Ian Serraillier
Major Themes: 20th century, Europe, Historical Fiction, Second World War
Synopsis: Four children, trying to find their missing parents and stay alive while fleeing from the war, embark on a dangerous journey across Europe—one that could easily end in their deaths.
I’ll admit it right now: I was supposed to read this for school, and after the first two chapters I quit (it may not have been even that far in). I told Mom about it and she said something along the lines of, “Great! I was hoping I’d be able to read it to your brothers anyway!” I really should have said “uh, oh” then and there. But I didn’t. I guess I’m a slow learner.
In Escape from Warsaw, we first meet Joseph. He’s a prisoner to the Nazis, but he knows he must escape quickly and find his family again. After laying careful plans, he makes an attempt—and gets away safely. But the Nazis are on his trail, and he must find a safe hiding place—soon.
Next, there is a particular boy who knows just about everything and everyone, and is a wonderful pickpocket. He knows so much he could be an old man—but that’s sad, because he is only a young boy and he never has a chance to be a regular boy who does regular boy things. He is given the charge to try to stay safe and find Joseph’s children.
After that, Ruth, Bronia, and Edek, Joseph’s children and the main characters of the novel, come on the scene. Nazis come, take away their mother, and lock the house up behind them. Later, the Nazis return—and blow the house up. From what the neighbors know, the children were killed when the explosives exploded. There is no trace of them left. But other things have happened as well—things the neighbors have no clue about.
Can the children keep themselves alive and get to their grandparent’s place, just as their father had charged them? Will they ever be a complete family again? While it may be hard for some—like me!—to get into, once you become interested in the story it’s almost impossible to put down. When Mom began reading, I wished I had read it to myself—the suspense was wonderful. But, it was too late—I had to wait along with my brothers until she had time to read the whole thing. The story is very well written, and I know everyone will love reading it. I especially recommend the story to children over the age of seven. Adults will love this story as well.
WARNING: For very sensitive children, some parts of the story may be scary, but almost everyone will be fine. There may be an unnecessary word here or there, and there is lying at times. Overall, though, the book is fine for younger readers.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above
Links to buy Escape from Warsaw (or The Silver Sword):
Keywords: Poland, Nazis