The Silver Sword Ideas for Reports and Papers
by Ian Serraillier

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Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

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1. The Silver Sword is set in Poland and Germany during and just after World War II. The author includes much description of the damage the war has done to the two countries. What effect do these descriptions have on the story?

2. Ruth, Edek, and Jan must all try to act like adults when their parents are no longer around to take care of them.

Where in the story do you see signs of how they are growing up? What adult qualities do they display?

3. Read the autobiographical book Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, written by a girl hiding from the Nazis with her family. How do Anne's experiences compare with those of the children in The Silver Sword? Why do you think Serraillier gave his book a happy ending? Do you feel that the ending of The Silver Sword makes light of the real tragedy suffered by millions of children, such as Anne?

4. Read one of the other books written about children's experiences during World War II (try Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene, They Didn't Come Back by Hans Peter Richter, The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall, or I Am David by Ann Holm.) How do these novels portray people from the different countries involved in the war, especially those on the "enemy" side? How do the experiences of the children in these books compare with those of the children in The Silver Sword?

5. Trace the development of the silver sword as a symbol in the novel. What does it represent thematically, and how does it function as a plot device?