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Rating is based on LibraryThing responses from - 53 readers who own 154 HvS books. Check out also the LibraryThing Blog.

Posts relating to Young Adult books have mentioned The Borrowed House and The Winged Watchman. Here's a sample:

Message 74: VictoriaPL: My absolute favorite is The Borrowed House by Hilda Van Stockum. When I was a young adult I checked it out of my local library a dozen times. A few years ago I wanted to buy a copy and it was out of print. So I bought an ex-library copy over the internet. The very next year they reprinted it. I am so glad it will be around for future generations.

Other responses were from LauraLLD (owns 15 HvS books), SaintSunniva (15), alivanmom (13), catholicfamily (10), marydee (10), SursumCorda (10), maryanntherese (9), muumi (9), thegoodlibrarian (8), lynealeia (6), BrickstreetAcademy (5), onceuponatime (5), herbofgrace (4), aninha (3), Catigail (3), dominionfamily (3), mwittkids (3), ocean.whisper (3), booklady1951 (2), janimar (2).

Of the 53 readers, 49 gave HvS books the highest rating of 5. Only four readers gave the books a rating of less than 5.


The Winged Watchman, a book by Hilda van Stockum originally published by Farrar Straus in 1962 and reprinted by Bethlehem Books, carries a message that would have been valuable for Washington to hear after 9/11.

Based on the experience of van Stockum's relatives in Holland, the book brings to life the high cost to Holland of occupation by the Nazis after the "shock and awe" of the devastating bombing of Rotterdam in 1940. When the Nazis threatened to move their bombing on to Amsterdam, the Dutch capitulated. 

Hilda van Stockum had many letters about the high cost to Holland of the occupation. She herself lost both her brothers from the war (her brother Willem van Stockum signed up as an RAF bomber pilot and was shot down over Laval). Her children had first-hand exposure to these costs when we visited our Dutch relatives soon after the war.

The Winged Watchman  shows the bitter resentment of the Dutch and their growing willingess to risk their lives by joining the Resistance. Those who did not live through World War II may forget these lessons. Children's books are a way to pass on the lessons learned by one generation to the next. The message of this book would have been helpful when plans were being made about how best the United States should respond to the news about 9/11. 

In fact, at that time the President of the United States was listening intently to the story of "The Pet Goat" being read out to him to the rhythm of the teacher's stick by an energetic class in Sarasota, Fla. The story of the pet goat that eats everything has a different message from The Winged Watchman. The goat eats away at the household until the father of the girl who owns the pet says: "That goat must go!" However, the pet goat the next day butts an apparent car stealer and the story's conclusion is that a single heroic victory by the unwanted goat solves its underlying problem. Subsequent developments make clear this was the wrong message. (John Tepper Marlin)


Four useful assessments of HvS's literary work are:

1. A May 2006 tribute to HvS books with many further references: A Garden of Roses and Lilies.

2. A review by Lifetime Books and Gifts, p. 308.

3. An assessment of HvS books from a Catholic perspective by her granddaughter, Christine Marlin.

4. An in-depth review of HvS books by her publisher, Bethlehem Books, in its memorial tribute to one of its first authors, perhaps its very first living author.


With one exception (King Oberon's Forest, illustrated by Brigid Marlin), all HvS books were illustrated as well as written by her. In two cases (the two reprinted titles covering the Resistance in Holland in World War II - the Winged Watchman and The Borrowed House), new covers were prepared by Bethlehem Books. Also, a different illustrator was chosen by Viking Press for its edition of Mogo's Flute; the current in-print version published in Nairobi uses the original HvS artwork and changed the spelling of the title to Mugo's Flute, this being a more acceptable transliteration of the Swahili.

The listed publisher in the first parentheses is the publisher of the first edition. Many subsequent editions and translations were published by book clubs. British Commonwealth editions were published by Muller, Constable and Collins in London. Starting in 1994 many of the books were reprinted by Bethlehem Books.

Each entry shows whether the title is in print or not and if so, the rank in October 2006 sales as shown on the Amazon web site or on the latest sales records from Bethlehem Books.


Full size

Two reviews from Amazon.com:

*****"A Book I'll Treasure Always" By Sophie Cacique Gaul (Montreal, Quebec). [Hilda van Stockum] received the Newbery Honor Award in 1935 for this very title, A DAY ON SKATES. "This is a book which mothers and fathers will sit up to finish, after the protesting child has been dragged firmly to bed." So begins the foreword by Edna St. Vincent Millay and is it ever the truth. My mother read me this delightful book when I was a little girl and I've just recently read it as an adult, because I've just passed the big three-oh and Mom found me a copy for my birthday. The story is set in Holland before the Second World War and it's about a pair of nine-year-old twins, Evert and Afke, who go with their class on a day's skating picnic. Along the way we learn an awful lot about life in Holland back then. But it is the children who make the book so divine. I loved this book when I was a child. I love it now. It's a shame it's not still available. [This was written before the new 2007 reprint edition.] I've studied a bit of art myself, so now I can appreciate Ms. van Stockum's illustrations and her fine color artwork. This book is a real joy and I'm glad I've had a chance to revisit it again and I'll treasure it always.

*****"This Book is a Treasure," Anonymous. This is a wonderful book for younger children, and their older siblings, too. It portrays the values and attitudes of days gone by when boys were masculine and girls were feminine and everyone was happy that it was so. The story is interesting, the action is well-paced and fun; you feel as if you have been on the picnic with the children! One of our favorite books!

From Heather Remoff, Eagles Mere, Pa., June 7, 2007 - Dear John, If I was deeply touched by your gift to Maeve of A Day on Skates when you gave it, I hardly have words for the gratitude I feel after reading the book.
Your mother will never die. She pulled me immediately into a world of such immense kindness, love, and light that reading her work is transformational. What a lovely story. What a lovely person.
The book captured all the dreams of my childhood and made them, for a moment, real. My daughter, Ingrid, and her daughter, Maeve, are going to love this book as much as I do. Your mother has a whole new generation of fans.
And just in time. Whenever the evening news leaves me ready to throw up my hands and declare humans a doomed species, I will turn to your mother and draw hope that there are children being socialized with her values. Thanks.

The Cottage at Bantry Bay (Viking, 1938) (Bantry Bay series), IN PRINT (3, 2)

Francie on the Run (Viking, 1939) (Bantry Bay series), IN PRINT (5, 6)

Kersti and St. Nicholas (Viking, 1940), OUT OF PRINT

Pegeen (Viking, 1941) (Bantry Bay series), IN PRINT (2, 5) Review by Semicolon Blog


Gerrit and the Organ (Viking, 1943), OUT OF PRINT

The Mitchells (Viking, 1945) (Mitchells series), IN PRINT (6, 3)

Canadian Summer (Viking, 1948) (Mitchells series), IN PRINT (7, 8) Blog review: Semicolon

The Angels' Alphabet (Viking, 1950), REPRINTED BY BETHLEHEM BOOKS, OUT OF PRINT (9, 4)

Patsy and the Pup (Viking, 1951), OUT OF PRINT

King Oberon's Forest (Constable, 1957), OUT OF PRINT

Friendly Gables (Viking, 1960) (Mitchells series), IN PRINT (4, 7)

Little Old Bear (1962), OUT OF PRINT

The Winged Watchman (Farrar Straus, 1962), IN PRINT (1,1) Blog reviews: 4 Real (October 2006) Homeschool Christian: Martha Robinson, Studeo Blogspot, Comment on the possibility of making The Winged Watchman into a movie
The Winged Watchman - full size picture

Perfect Fives - The following are the latest three reviews of The Winged Watchman posted on Amazon.com (all 11 reviews posted in Amazon rate the book five stars out of five):

*****"Tour De Force", January 6, 2007 By Reader Mom "cakebaker21" (Annandale, VA). I first heard of Hilda van Stockum when I bought a used book by her, Pegeen for a mere quarter a few years ago -- oh my! What a find!!! Couldn't put the book down, started researching all of Mrs. van Stockum's books, and read them as fast as I could find them. Bought several from Amazon and eBay, and they are WONDERFUL. They're written for children, but utterly held the interest of this 51 year old reader. What a shame these books aren't still widely circulated and read by today's kids. If you read the reviews posted here, you'll get an idea of The Winged Watchman's story -- a riveting account, clearly truth-based, and perfectly told. All of the van Stockum books have made me cry with their impact, yet they are told in an utterly natural way, no grandstanding. These are the kind of characters that stay with you, in the best sense, like Francie from "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" or the Moffats, or Scarlett O'Hara. They are unforgettable. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND The Winged Watchman and all of Hilda Van Stockum's books. And you should Google her! A fascinating and accomplished person, her life will impress and inspire you. Sorry to ramble on! Thanks.

*****"This Is a Really Good Book," October 20, 2006 - By G. Covely. This book was about how a boy, who lived in Holland during WW2 survived. He took part in helping the resistance by housing a pilot and acting as a distraction. He also helped to keep Holland from flooding when the electric pumps went out. I would recommend this book to others because it was very entertaining.

*****"A Must Read for Today's Children," April 25, 2006 By Dindy Robinson "Swimming Kangaroo Books" (Arlington, TX United States). I loved The Winged Watchman when I was growing up and am pleased to see that it has been reissued for a whole new generation of readers. In my opinion, it should be required reading for all kids -- it depicts a family living under Nazi occupation and facing it with courage. The Verhagen Family lives in the Netherlands, and as the occupation and the war proceeds, the family becomes more drawn into the resistance movement. They shelter several refugees from the Nazis -- Trixie, a baby whose mother has been sent to a conentration camp, Charles, an airman who is hiding from the Nazi troops, Koba and Betsy, who take refuge with the Verhagens because they have nothing to eat in their own home, and Hildebrand, a student who wishes to study rather than fight. With frequent visits from Uncle Cor, who is active in the resistance, the family draws together, determined not to succumb to the brutality they see all around them. This book serves as an excellent example to children of a family's bravery and of the importance of doing the right thing. It's a terrific book and is one that will touch your children's hearts as it is teaching them a valuable lesson.

Jeremy Bear (1963), OUT OF PRINT

Bennie and the New Baby (1964), OUT OF PRINT

New Baby is Lost (1964), OUT OF PRINT

Mogo's Flute (1966), OUT OF PRINT IN USA (in print in Africa under the title Mugo's Flute)

Penengro (1972), OUT OF PRINT

Rufus Round and Round (1973), OUT OF PRINT

The Borrowed House(Farrar Straus, 1975), IN PRINT (8, 9) Reviewed by Catholic Family, p. 7.


(List in formation)
The Smugglers of Buenaventura, by S. R. van Iterson, translated from the Dutch by HvS (William Morrow and Company, 1974)

The Curse of Laguna Grande, by S. R. van Iterson, translated from the Dutch by HvS (William Morrow and Company, 1972?)


(List in formation)

Bells of Leyden Sing, written by Catherine Cate Coblentz, illustrated by HvS
Full size picture of Bells of Leyden Sing

Hans Brinker, illustrated by HvS
Full size cover of Hans Brinker

Strijd voor een Molen, By Jan den Tex, illustrated by HvS (this is the book that got HvS interested in windmills)
Full size picture of Strijd voor een Molen

Pamela Walks the Dog, written by Christine Marlin, illustrated by HvS (Bethlehem Books First Edition, 2001)


Hilda van Stockum began several autobiographies toward the end of her life. These are being transcribed and assembled. Two instalments on her time at art school in the Netherlands - in fictional form, as HvS wrote them - appear by permission of the HvS estate in Inscape (published by the Society for Art of Imagination), Spring 2006, pp. 4-6, and Fall 2006, pp. 6-9.


For rights to any out-of-print books, illustrations or unpublished manuscripts by Hilda van Stockum, contact her estate executor.


In answer to your question, in general, I love all Mom’s books. But here are some distinctions:

1. I am particularly fond of Andries, because it captures the philosophical mind of children (especially Randal’s!) Mother listened to what her children were saying, took it all seriously, dialogued with them, appreciated them and so helped our minds to develop at a tender age. She herself was an original thinker, and she recognized this in her children, drawing them out. To my mind, Andries is really a book written by children for adults.

2. My least favourite books are ones with little objective content: (Jeremy Bear, New Baby is Lost, Bennie and the New Baby), but I have to confess that I don’t even remember them, so it is unfair to make a judgment.

3. I think perhaps the two trilogies will be the best remembered; they will be of historical interest, apart from other considerations -
The Mitchells because it was the first one that was really US! All our dear people were there: Miffie, Lois Dean, Grannie, even Bubbie somehow. It was also MY book, in the sense that I was the central character. Mother knew me well!
The Cottage at Bantry Bay series because it helps us remember our years in Ireland.


Talented. Creative. Passionate and inspirational. That was Hilda - but she was also a warm human being.

I met her in September 1982 when I joined the beginners in her Creative Writing Class in Berkhamsted. I was very much in awe of her, having heard of her achievements, and I expected her to be a little imperious.

I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Within minutes we were her friends and she was eager for us to be successful. She asked why we wanted to be writers and got the usual answers, which I heard over and over again throughout the years of attending her classes:

“I’m going to write a book and become famous.”

“I’m going to write a book and become rich.”

“Can’t think what to do with myself so I’ve taken up writing.”

I couldn’t think what to say, so I said: "I just want to write." Hilda actually grinned at me, which won me over completely.

She taught by encouragement and not by criticism except when it was absolutely necessary. I only saw her lose her temper twice in all the years I attended her classes. Not with me, thank goodness!

She was lively, proud, devout and gifted. She was generous with her love.

I shall never forget her sparkling eyes, her wonderful smile and her loving heart.


(... and therefore why the Winged Watchman is needed.)
by Teresa, May 5, 2005

Today is Yom Ha-Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. In Israel, air raid sirens blared for two straight minutes, as the entire country came to a standstill. At Auschwitz, visitors made a two mile trek to Birkaneu, where Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave a speech telling the world never to forget. First Lady Laura Bush gave a speech on the South Lawn of the White House - telling us to bear witness and to remember, so that such an atrocity can never happen again. (...Omitted paragraph, on a different topic.)
I was listening to a wonderful program on NPR today, where a survivor of the Gunskirche camp in Austria was reunited with his American liberator. They shared their experiences of that day, 60 years ago tomorrow, when the Americans rolled into Gunskirche and saw the emaciated dehumanized prisoners with their own eyes. Martin Weiss, the survivor, says that he thinks young people respond to the story of the Holocaust, but Edgar Edelsack, his liberator disagrees. “They’ll listen,” he says of my generation, “but they don’t really hear.”
Growing up, I didn’t feel terribly connected to the Holocaust. It seemed so long ago. But as I grow older and begin my life as an adult with the man I love, I can begin to imagine what it would feel like to have it all ripped away from me. And only then do I begin to understand.
Here to hear the NPR story.
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