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The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

By Jaap Ter Haar    
Inheritance Publications

Box 154
Neerlandia, Alberta Canada T0G 1R0

All too frequently as our family studies historical eras in our own country and in lands abroad, we focus on governmental structures, military lines that have been drawn in the sand, the issues that triggered the events, and possibly the victims and heroes of the day. We are familiar with names like Stalin and Hitler and what their regimes stood for. Our libraries are packed with the stories of Anne Frank, Corrie Ten Boom, and even The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. However, we do not meander the streets of the common civilians that struggle to just survive through these military initiatives.

Boris is a 130-page work of historical fiction that fills that gap. It is the story 12-year-old Boris and his friend, Nadia. These youngsters travel across the forbidden No-Man's-Land that lies between Russian and German lines just outside the besieged city of Leningrad during World War II. It is the story of their courage when faced with imminent death if they cannot secure food for themselves and their families. Their own views of the "enemy" are challenged as they come face to face with soldiers from the other side and realize that they are just as human and filled with compassion as they hope to be.

The content and vocabulary used in the book can easily be read by upper elementary and middle school students. However, the story is captivating enough to keep the attention of high school students and adults alike.

Boris is a wonderful addition to the library of any avid reader, a homeschool that is studying World War II, or any home that desires to reinforce a compassionate spirit in their children through the realization that our greatest "enemies" are just as human and needy as we are.

A truly great read.

Product review by Dawn Oaks, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2011

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