Since 1988, the Vine Awards, administered by the Koffler Centre of the Arts, has honoured both the best Canadian Jewish writers and Canadian authors who deal with Jewish subjects. We would like to congratulate Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer whose excellent novel, Broken Strings, won in the YA/Children’s Literature category.
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
288 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735266261 | Puffin Canada
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers, 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.
“Broken Strings seamlessly blends themes of young love, artistic identity, 9/11, grief, and the Auschwitz orchestra into a moving and insightful young adult novel.” – Vine Awards Jury
Have you heard of the Pocket Change Collective? It’s an on-going series of big ideas wrapped in cute little packages from a variety of voices across North America. They deal with huge topics like the gender binary, art, and the plastics crisis and we’re obsessed with them. And they make great stocking stuffers or small holiday gifts for the budding activist in your life! Check them out below and keep an eye out for a few new installments in 2021!
If you need more encouragement to pick these little books up, we’ve included links to panels we did with the entire Pocket Change Collective team in collaboration with the Koffler Centre of the Arts in Toronto!
Beyond the Gender Binary By Alok Vaid-Menon Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky 64 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback ISBN 9780593094655 | Penguin Workshop Alok Vaid-Menon challenges the world to see gender not in black and white, but in full color. Taking from their own experiences as a gender-nonconforming artist, they show us that gender is a malleable and creative form of expression. The only limit is your imagination.
The New Queer Conscience By Adam Eli Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky 64 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback ISBN 9780593093689 | Penguin Workshop Voices4 Founder and LGBTQIA+ activist Adam Eli offers a candid and compassionate introduction to queer responsibility. Eli calls on his Jewish faith to underline how kindness and support within the queer community can lead to a stronger global consciousness. More importantly, he reassures us that we’re not alone. In fact, we never were. Because if you mess with one queer, you mess with us all.
Imaginary Borders By Xiuhtezcatl Martinez Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky 64 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback ISBN 9780593094136 | Penguin Workshop Earth Guardians Youth Director and hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez shows us how his music feeds his environmental activism and vice versa. Martinez visualizes a future that allows us to direct our anger, fear, and passion toward creating change. Because, at the end of the day, we all have a part to play.
This is What I Know About Art By Kimberly Drew Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky 64 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback ISBN 9780593095188 | Penguin Workshop Arts writer and co-editor of Black Futures Kimberly Drew shows us that art and protest are inextricably linked. Drawing on her personal experience through art toward activism, Drew challenges us to create space for the change that we want to see in the world. Because there really is so much more space than we think.
Catch up with Kimberly and Xiuhtezcatl at the Koffler Centre – October 6, 2020
Concrete Kids By Amyra León Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky 96 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback ISBN 9780593095195 | Penguin Workshop Concrete Kids is an exploration of love and loss, melody and bloodshed. Musician, playwright, and educator Amyra León takes us on a poetic journey through her childhood in Harlem, as she navigates the intricacies of foster care, mourning, self-love, and resilience. In her signature free-verse style, she invites us all to dream with abandon–and to recognize the privilege it is to dream at all.
Taking on the Plastics Crisis By Hannah Testa Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky 64 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback ISBN 9780593223338 | Penguin Workshop Youth activist Hannah Testa, founder of Hannah4Change, shares how she led a grassroots political campaign to successfully pass state legislation limiting single-use plastics and how she influenced global businesses to adopt more sustainable practices. Through her personal journey, readers can learn how they, too, can follow in Hannah’s footsteps and lower their carbon footprint by simply refusing single-use plastics.