Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Little Riders by Margaretha Shemin illustrated by Peter Spier

This is one of those books I mentioned where our school library copy is old and needing replacement so I bought it home to re-read just to be sure it was worth buying a new copy.

I read this book over twenty years ago and yes it has stood the test of time.  Actually The Little Riders was first published in 1963.

Johanna is sent to the safety of her grandparents in Holland during World War II and for four years she has enjoyed helping her grandfather care for the little riders.  The riders are a set of figures that live in the town clock.  Each hour, on the hour, music plays and the little riders emerge from the clock.

"They would ride up to each other, lift their swords in a salute and then go in the opposite door. In and out as many times as the clock had struck.  While they rode in and out of the doors, the carillon of the church played old Dutch folk tunes."

One day the German soldiers march in to the town.  The little riders are no longer safe.  "Grandfather started to think again about a safe hiding place for the little riders because now, more than ever, the Germans needed every scrap of metal for ammunition."

The real crisis is not long in coming.  A German soldier has moved into the house and even into Johanna's room.  In this same room there is a hidden space inside the cupboard.  When her Grandfather and Grandmother are taken by the soldiers Johanna has only minutes to hide the precious riders.  Will she dare to hide them in this cupboard which is filled with German uniforms?

You can watch the movie here.

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