Book Review: The Little Riders

Rating: ★★★★★

Johanna, a young Dutch-American girl, is visiting her grandparents in Holland when World War II breaks out and Holland is invaded by the Germans.  To her dismay, the Nazis appropriate her bedroom to be the living quarters of one of their officers.  This not only produces inconvenience for the girl, but also endangers her grandparents who are leaders in the resistance movement.  She takes consolation in watching the village’s treasured Little Riders, iron figures of noblemen commemorating the Crusades, which make their circuit in the church steeple as the great clock strikes the hours.  When the Nazis announce their intention to melt the Little Riders down for ammunition, Johanna joins the movement to keep the statues out of the Nazis’ hands.  When plans to smuggle them out of town go wrong, Johanna is left alone with them and she heroically implements a desperate solution.  The story ends with a surprise which underscores the humanity of all people who participated in this war.

This riveting story gently introduces the pain and evil involved in World War II, without going into graphic detail about the horrors of the war.  Johanna’s courage and loyalty are very admirable, and they seem to grow naturally in the context of her family’s values of love and courtesy.  The book is written at a transitional reader’s level and (unlike most war stories) is appropriate for precocious pre-readers.

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Publication Information: Shemin, Margaretha. Little Riders, The. Spier, Peter (Illustrator). HarperCollins. 1963. ISBN: 0688124992.
Categories: 5 Stars, Age 04-08, First Chapter Books, Read-Aloud Handbook, Transitional Readers
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Posted on February 24, 2010

1 Response to Book Review: The Little Riders

  • Phoenix says:

    This book was so good!! Nice summary!!

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