Holocaust Education Week 2019

This year, Holocaust Education Week is being observed in Toronto from November 3-10, 2019. Their programs and workshops ensure that the next generation meaningfully learns about the Holocaust through best practices, resources, and engagement with survivor testimony. We’ve put together a list of books that may help bridge the gap for young readers.

PICTURE BOOKS

The Cat Who Lived With Anne Frank
By David Lee Miller and Steven Jay Rubin
Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
ISBN 9781524741501 | Hardcover
Ages 4-8 | Philomel Books
Told from the perspective of the cat who actually lived with Anne Frank in the famous Amsterdam annex, this poignant book paints a picture of a young girl who wistfully dreams of a better life for herself and her friends, tentatively wonders what mark she might leave on the world, and, above all, adamantly believes in the goodness of people.

MIDDLE GRADE

Broken Strings
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
ISBN 9780735266247 | Hardcover
Ages 10-14 | Puffin Canada
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers — and the death of her beloved grandmother — Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school. Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner — strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.

How I Became a Spy: A Mystery of WWII London
By Deborah Hopkinson
ISBN 9780399557064 | Hardcover
Ages 8-12 | Knopf Books For Young Readers
Bertie Bradshaw never set out to become a spy. He never imagined traipsing around war-torn London, solving ciphers, practicing surveillance, and searching for a traitor to the Allied forces. He certainly never expected that a strong-willed American girl named Eleanor would play Watson to his Holmes (or Holmes to his Watson, depending on who you ask). But when a young woman goes missing, leaving behind a coded notebook, Bertie is determined to solve the mystery. With the help of Eleanor and his friend David, a Jewish refugee–and, of course, his trusty pup, Little Roo–Bertie must decipher the notebook in time to stop a double agent from spilling the biggest secret of all to the Nazis.

White Bird: A Wonder Story
By R.J. Palacio
ISBN 9780525645535 | Hardcover
Ages 8-12 | Knopf Books For Young Readers
In R. J. Palacio’s bestselling collection of stories Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian’s grandmother, Grandmère. Here, Palacio makes her graphic novel debut with Grandmère’s heartrending story: how she, a young Jewish girl, was hidden by a family in a Nazi-occupied French village during World War II; how the boy she and her classmates once shunned became her savior and best friend.

YOUNG ADULT

What the Night Sings
By Vesper Stamper
ISBN 9781524700386 | Hardcover
Ages 12+ | Knopf Books For Young Readers
After losing her family and everything she knew in the Nazi concentration camps, Gerta is finally liberated, only to find herself completely alone. Without her papa, her music, or even her true identity, she must move past the task of surviving and on to living her life. In the displaced persons camp where she is staying, Gerta meets Lev, a fellow teen survivor who she just might be falling for, despite her feelings for someone else. With a newfound Jewish identity she never knew she had, and a return to the life of music she thought she lost forever, Gerta must choose how to build a new future.

The Book Thief
By Markus Zusak
ISBN 9781101934180 | Hardcover
Ages 12+ | Knopf Books For Young Readers
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

The Red Ribbon
By Lucy Adlington
ISBN 9780763680176 | Paperback
Ages 12+ | Candlewick Press
Three weeks after being detained on her way home from school, fourteen-year-old Ella finds herself in the Upper Tailoring Studio, a sewing workshop inside a Nazi concentration camp. There, two dozen skeletal women toil over stolen sewing machines. They are the seamstresses of Birchwood, stitching couture dresses for a perilous client list: wives of the camp’s Nazi overseers and the female SS officers who make prisoners’ lives miserable. It is a workshop where stylish designs or careless stitches can mean life or death. And it is where Ella meets Rose. As thoughtful and resilient as the dressmakers themselves, Rose and Ella’s story is one of courage, desperation, and hope — hope as delicate and as strong as silk, as vibrant as a red ribbon in a sea of gray.

The Extra
By Kathryn Lasky
ISBN 9780735266247 | Hardcover
Ages 12+ | Candlewick Press
In this chilling but ultimately uplifting novel, Kathryn Lasky imagines the lives of the Romani—called the “Gypsy Plague” by the Nazis—who worked as extras for Hitler’s real favorite filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. Fifteen-year-old Lilo and the other extras are barely fed, closely guarded, and kept in a locked barn when not on the movie set. And Riefenstahl is always present, answering the slightest provocation with malice, flaunting the power to assign prisoners to life or death. When faced with a rare opportunity, Lilo takes matters into her own hands, effecting an escape and running for her life, giving readers a story of survival unlike any other.

Playing for the Commandant
By Suzy Zail
ISBN 9780763664039 | Hardcover
Ages 12+ | Candlewick Press
“Look after each other . . . and get home safe. And when you do, tell everyone what you saw and what they did to us.” These are Hanna’s father’s parting words to her and her sister when their family is separated at the gates of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Her father’s words — and a black C-sharp piano key hidden away in the folds of her dress — are all that she has left to remind her of life before. Before, Hanna was going to be a famous concert pianist. She was going to wear her yellow dress to a dance. And she was going to dance with a boy. But then the Nazis came. Now it is up to Hanna to do all she can to keep her mother and sister alive, even if that means playing piano for the commandant and his guests. Staying alive isn’t supposed to include falling in love with the commandant’s son. But Karl Jager is beautiful, and his aloofness belies a secret. And war makes you do dangerous things.

Code Name Verity
By Elizabeth Wein
ISBN 9780385676571 | Paperback
Ages 12+ | Doubleday Canada
Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during the Second World War. One is a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat; one is a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly, and before long they are devoted friends. But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in “Verity’s” own words, as she writes her account for her captors.

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: The Grey Sisters Blog Tour Recap

We’ve been running a massive blog tour for Jo Treggiari’s GG-nominated THE GREY SISTERS for the past couple of weeks so we’ve dropped all the reviews here in a handy-dandy recap post.

Week One

October 14: Michele at Just A Lil’ Lost recommends it for fans of SADIE or THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES

October 15: Kristi at Confessions of a YA Reader promoted the book along with some more info about Jo Treggiari

October 16: Zuhra at Venus Reads was hooked within the first chapter and “enjoyed the complexities of all the characters, plot and how the heavy topic of grief was tackled”

October 17: Book Hounds featured a Q&A with Jo Treggiari herself (and now our TBRs are even longer!)

October 18: Trang at Bookidote thought it was so compelling, she finished the book in ONE SITTING!

Week Two

October 21: Victoria at The Contented Reader enjoyed Jo’s previous book BLOOD WILL OUT and recommends this one too

October 22: Crossroad Reviews thought the characters are “some that will rip out your heart”

October 23: YA Book Central chatted with Jo and we learned what she’s working on next (plus there’s a giveaway!)

October 24: Lizz at Literary Lizard posted both a review and an interview with Jo where they discussed the cult aspects of the book

October 25: Isabella at The Feminist Bookworm did a Q&A with Jo and learned more about the inspiration for the novel

Week Three

October 28: On Instagram, Sam recommended THE GREY SISTERS to fans of WILDER GIRLS

October 29: Carly at A Beauty & Her Books was immediately intrigued by the synopsis and enjoyed the read

October 30: On Instagram, Jen read it in a day and was shocked by some of the twists!

October 31: And on Instagram, Ali finished off the tour with a beautiful photo!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated, we appreciate you all! Hopefully this blog tour will inspire others to pick up a copy of THE GREY SISTERS – if you do, make sure you let us know what you think!

YA Halloween Costume: The Beauty of the Moment

Dress up like your favorite YA book covers this Halloween! Today’s outfit is inspired by the sweet, artsy cover of The Beauty of the Moment. We’ve done the work and searched for all the pieces for you!


Scarf: Love Lakeside | Dress: iClothing | Tights: eBay | Boots: Nasty Gal

The Beauty of the Moment
By Tanaz Bhathena
ISBN 9780735263741 | Penguin Teen Canada
368 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover

Susan dreams of being an artist. Malcolm wants to move him and his sister out of a bad living situation. Sparks fly when the two teens meet at a fundraiser for Syrian refugees. A Canadian YA romance for fans of The Sun is Also a Star.

Susan is the new girl — she’s sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy — he started raising hell at age fifteen, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since.

Susan hasn’t told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn’t know what he wants — until he meets her.

Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are.

YA Halloween Costume: Chicken Girl

Dress up like your favorite YA book covers this Halloween! Today’s outfit is inspired by the bold, feather-filled cover of Chicken Girl We’ve done the work and searched for all the pieces for you!


Boa: cynthiasmerchant | Dress: BobcatVintage | Shoes: Converse

Chicken Girl
By Heather Smith
ISBN 9780143198680 | Penguin Teen Canada
240 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover

Everybody has a story that will break your heart; a poignant coming-of-age YA for fans of David Arnold, from the author of the acclaimed The Agony of Bun O’Keefe, a Kirkus Best of the Year selection.

Poppy used to be an optimist. But after a photo of her dressed as Rosie the Riveter is mocked online, she’s having trouble seeing the good in the world. As a result, Poppy trades her beloved vintage clothes for a feathered chicken costume and accepts a job as an anonymous sign waver outside a restaurant. There, Poppy meets six-year-old girl Miracle, who helps Poppy see beyond her own pain, opening her eyes to the people around her: Cam, her twin brother, who is adjusting to life as an openly gay teen; Buck, a charming photographer with a cute British accent and a not-so-cute mean-streak; and Lewis a teen caring for an ailing parent, while struggling to reach the final stages of his gender transition. As the summer unfolds, Poppy stops glorifying the past and starts focusing on the present. But just as she comes to terms with the fact that there is good and bad in everyone, she is tested by a deep betrayal.

2019 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic

The Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic has celebrated the best in Canadian fantasy since 2001 and takes its name from the debut novel of Phyllis Gotlieb, one of the first authors to publish contemporary Canadian speculative fiction. We would like to congratulate Rachel Hartman whose novel Tess of the Road won this year’s Young Adult Fiction award.

Tess of the Road
By Rachel Hartman
544 Pages | Ages 12+ | Penguin Teen Canada
ISBN 9780385685887

From the Sunburst Awards jury:

Rachel Hartman’s Tess of the Road is a tour de force, a novel that dives headfirst into its heroine’s complex, messy, morally multifaceted world while never losing sight of the story at its heart. Hartman’s Tess is on a journey whose point is less self-discovery than it is a simple acceptance of self-worth. Her credo, “Walk on,” comes to encompass not just her physical journey but her struggle to accept that she matters and that it is possible for others to find worth in her. Tess’s progress takes place in a richly imagined fantastic landscape where even the deeply alien quigutl are so deftly painted that the unfamiliar becomes known and comforting. The reader is able to journey with Tess into an understanding that the seemingly strictest and most unshakeable beliefs can be based on lack of knowledge or unwillingness to embrace change.