SERRAILLIER, Ian (author). C. Walter HODGES (illustrator). The Silver Sword. London; Jonathan Cape. 1956.
8vo. Original tan cloth lettered and decorated in black to spine, preserved in pictorial dustwrapper; pp. [x], 13-187 + [ii]; with frontispiece in three colours and line drawings throughout; a near fine copy, both externally and internally, with only a little light dusting, and a few tiny speckles, to edges of book block, and no inscription; protected by a very good example of the unclipped dustwrapper (10s. 6d.) with some overall toning and dusting, tanning to spine, rubbing to joints and fore-edge folds, nicking to spine ends, and some marking to the reverse.
First edition. Set against the backdrop of 'bombed-out towns, bread lines, soup kitchens, displaced-person camps, and occupying armies' this modern children's classic has become very sought after by collectors because of its power as an adventure story about human deprivation and survival. Set in Europe of the mid-1940s, Joseph, the Nazi-defying father of the family, is sent to a Polish prison camp from which he escapes to find his home destroyed, his wife interned, and his children missing, presumed dead. The talismanic paper knife he gives to a young orphan to help him identify his children, should he ever come across them. Its wonderful illustrator, Cyril Walter Hodges, coincidentally worked on 2 other great children's of the period, The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goodge and The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff.