If you hand this book to your young reader, you’re going to have a hard time getting him to come to the supper table; if you read it aloud to your nonreader, you’re going to discover that your teenager is hanging about in nonchalant, but intent fashion, and your husband or wife is going to beg you on the way out the door, “Do not read this while I am gone.” It’s really that good and will draw in your entire family.
The story is not about an angel, though there must have been several hanging around, but is about a special guard – a windmill actually. Set in the dark days of World War II in Holland, Hilda Van Stockum (Bethlehem Books) has spun a tale with threads of danger and courage, treachery and loyalty, deprivation and generosity, loss and rescue, all woven with beautiful threads of family solidarity, strength, and love. It is the survival story of one family trying to live in peace and quiet while all around them spins a world of conflict and destruction that they cannot avoid. Ultimately, it is the endurance that produces character and the triumph of truth and love over evil that leaves you with that rare and oh-so-satisfying sense of truth, beauty, and goodness you and your children will never forget.
Okay, I admit it: this is probably one of the best books our family has ever read, and is right up there on our shelf of favorites with those iconic Tolkien and Lewis tales that have also shaped our lives. Despite the ugliness of war, the story is told from the perspective of the youngest boy and so there is the normal adventure and pranks of every little boy’s childhood, as Joris and his brother wholeheartedly embrace life and all it holds for them. Yes, there is a downed R.A.F. pilot they must hide and protect, a Jewish baby that grows up with them, and a lot of intrigue as their family is drawn into the Dutch resistance movement. Your children will be caught up in the suspense, yet will learn the lessons of true loyalty and love for your brother, as well as the difference between lies and secrets for safety’s sake. There is enough humor and family fun in their everyday life to give relief from the constant tension of living under the tyranny of the occupying hostile regime.
Of course we all know the war ends, but there will be surprises to the last page of this story for your family as you enter into the struggles and survival of this unforgettable family in which every member turns out to be a hero.