Journey by ice
Set in 1941, The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story from the Netherlands by Louise Borden has all the makings of a classic. A Dutch boy named Piet takes on the mission of a lifetime when he is asked to skate across the canals of the Netherlands into Belgium, where he will serve as a guide to two children who are fleeing from the Germans. Facing threats from enemy soldiers, braving sub-zero temperatures and chill winds, Piet and the youngsters set out on their journey disguised as students enjoying a day on the ice. To help speed them on their precarious mission, Piet thinks of his hero, Pim Mulier, the first person to successfully complete the Elfstedentocht, a much-celebrated skating race that takes place every year on the canals and waterways of his homeland. With Pim as his inspiration, Piet leads his two friends to safety across the frozen landscape in an act of courage that will inspire readers of all ages. Niki Daly's impressionistic illustrations seem to belong to the era. His fresh-faced young characters and smoky winter scenes add to the timelessness of this remarkable tale. Julie Hale writes from Austin, where snowflakes are rarely seen.