Thursday, December 07, 2006

Book Review: The Little Riders

This book was an unexpected and delightful little surprise.

Erin, on the 4Real Learning boards, recommended The Little Riders, by Margaretha Shemin. It tells the story of eleven-year-old Johanna, who is visiting her grandparents in Holland when the German occupation occurs. Before he left, Johanna's father exhorted her to "take care of the Little Riders," the beautiful figures that ride out of the clock in the town square every hour. The Little Riders have ridden over the town for hundreds of years, and become as dear to Johanna as they were to her father and her grandfather. She watches them from her attic room window every day, and is entranced by their majesty and loveliness.

Soon, the German army requisitions that attic room in Johanna's grandparents' home, and Captain Braun, a German officer, moves in. My girls picked up on a few clues that Capt. Braun was perhaps a reluctant soldier and a kind man, such as the way he was considerately quiet when he arrived home late at night. And, there was the fact that he seemed to be especially noisy when he was approaching a room during the day (giving Grandfather time to hide his radio.)

Grandfather thinks that the Germans plan to dismantle and take the Little Riders (and melt them down to make ammunition), so he hatches a plot to protect them. Johanna is part of the plan, but her role in saving the Little Riders becomes vital when Grandfather and Grandmother are taken away for questioning at a crucial moment.

What happens next, between Johanna and Capt. Braun, in this deceptively small and simple book, is touching and nicely done.

The Edmisten girls give The Little Riders a big thumbs-up.


Alice Gunther said...

A big thank you for this, Karen. We are looking for a read aloud.

Karen Edmisten said...

I hope you'll enjoy it, Alice. The German officer who had the soul of an artist was very touching to me.

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Thanks for this post, Karen!

I'm going to see if my library has it! It sounds so interesting.

Happy Advent!