Carol Matas, award-winning YA fiction authorCarol Matas, Award-winning Novelist for Young People

[ Home ] About Carol Matas ] Books & Plays ] Awards & Honours ] Holocaust ] Contemporary ] Historical ] Fantasy ] Paranormal ] Sci-Fi ] Younger Readers ] Writing Process ] Carol Speaks Out ] Invite Carol ] FOR BREAKING NEWS — VISIT MY BLOG


For Middle Grades — a New Historical Novel with Jewish Themes


2014 National Jewish Book Awards Finalist
 in the Children's & Young Adult Literature Category

(The Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids & Teens 2015, Spring Edition)

2015 McNally Robinson Book for Young People Awards Finalist

"Recommended" by CM: Canadian Review of Materials


A special signed launch edition of Tucson Jo is now available from McNally Robinson Booksellers, or in other print and ebook formats from Fictive Press.


“Papa is a tyrant; that’s what he is — a tyrant! And I will always be subject to his whims!”

When her father decides to run for mayor of Tucson in 1882, fourteen-year-old Josephine Fiedler is reluctant to support his bid. “I could be sealing my fate, helping to elect someone who wants nothing more than my docility.” With a mind of her own, Jo is in constant conflict with her father and doesn’t know how to back down when she feels she is in the right. “Without law, without order, there is no freedom,” states her father, but Jo wants nothing less than the freedom he promised her when he uprooted the family from “civilized” Boston to the Wild West of the Territory of Arizona because of his health. When violence erupts during the election campaign and her father’s opponent attacks him for being an Israelite, Jo has to reconsider her position and even what it means to be a Jew.

Inspired by Tucson’s first Jewish mayor, Tucson Jo is packed with action and deeds of derring-do, shootouts and holdups, while dealing with serious moral issues like right and wrong, law and order, and women’s rights.

Carol Matas' 2015 blog tour

Get the inside scoop, the story behind the story of Tucson Jo, with these fascinating interviews with Carol Matas:
on Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb
on Jewish Books for Kids with author/blogger Barbara Bietz
on The Canadian Balance with author/blogger Anna Levine
on The Whole Megillah by author/historian Barbara Krasner



Named one of "The Year's Best 2013" books for Grades 3-6 by Resource Links

An unforgettable reminder of the resilience of human compassion, even in the face of the worst horrors of our history.

In the autumn of 1940, Anna Hirsch and her friends and family are rounded up by Nazis and deported to Gurs, a refugee camp in the south of France. Food is scarce, and the living conditions inhumane. Even worse is the ever-present fear that they will be relocated once again — this time to one of the death camps. But when word comes that Anna and the other children are to be moved, their destination is not Auschwitz or Buchenwald, but Le Chambon-sur-Lignon: a tiny village whose citizens have agreed to care for deported Jewish children. 

Based on the true story of a French village that banded together to protect the Jews during WWII, this unforgettable tale honours the contagious goodness that permeated one corner of a region otherwise enveloped in evil, and celebrates the courage of all those who put their lives at risk to save others. 

Available from:
Chapters Indigo
McNally Robinson


Changing the world was impossible. Creating another one was worse. And escape was out. She was trapped. A collaboration between acclaimed writers Carol Matas and Perry Nodelman, this roller coaster of an adventure
is filled with twists and turns, excitement and fun. It is an extraordinary creative fantasy about empowerment that compels readers not to take everything at face value.

“A spellbinding fantasy...proof positive that two heads are better than one.”—SLJ Best Books of the Year

“Strong...a solid fantasy about thinking for oneself, thinking other people’s thoughts, and the power of the imagination.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Original, unpredictable...a kaleidoscope of character, cultures, and events that offers both entertainment and enrichment.”—School Library Journal starred review

Chapters Indigo
McNally Robinson




When I Die is a meditation on death that will resonate with children of all ages. Are you looking for a way to talk about death to your child or grandchild? Are you grappling with the issue of your own mortality? When I Die, a simple but powerful meditation, can give you a safe place to start the discussion.

How I came to write When I Die

"The entire manuscript came to me all at once while I was meditating. I have changed it a little but it is almost exactly as I 'heard' it originally. I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular, my mind was rather blank, so I can’t explain why I thought of it or how it came to be. But I feel comforted by it in some strange way.

"The circle of life will go on with or without me. Some people tend to think they are the centre of the universe and all important. Others think they don’t matter at all and no one would care if they lived or if they died. I tend to think that there is a balance in almost everything. We are all the most important things in the universe- after all, Jewish thought says that if you save one life you have saved the world. And it is also true that the world will go on without us and that is a good thing. Everything is important or nothing is important. I believe everything is."




NOTE TO eREADERS: For optimal e-viewing, set the text on your Reader small enough that you see text above and below each photograph.

Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz

Pieces of the Past, Holocaust Diary by Carol Matas

A Sydney Taylor Honor Book Selection for 2014
(See An interview with Carol Matas on the Sydney Taylor Award Blog tour)
Winner of the 2014 Helen & Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award
(in the Youth category)
Shortlisted for a 2104/15 Red Cedar Award (BC’s young readers’ choice award for students in grades 4 through 7)
"Highly recommended, 4 out of 4 stars" by The Deakin Review of Children's Literature

Named one of "The Year's Best 2013" books for Grades 3-6 by Resource Links
"Highly recommended" by CM Magazine.
A "
BEST BOOKS FOR KIDS AND TEENS" pick for the Canadian Children's Book Centre’s Fall 2013 edition of Best Books For Kids and Teens

A young Jewish girl recounts her experiences during a horrifying time in recent history. As Rose begins her diary, she is in her third home since coming to Winnipeg. Traumatized by her experiences in the Holocaust, she struggles to connect with others, and above all, to trust again.

When her new guardian, Saul, tries to get Rose to deal with what happened to her during the war, she begins writing in her diary about how she survived the murder of the Jews in Poland by going into hiding.

Memories of herself and her mother being taken in by those willing to risk sheltering Jews, moving from place to place, being constantly on the run to escape capture, begin to flood her diary pages. Recalling those harrowing days, including when they stumbled on a resistance cell deep in the forest and lived underground in filthy conditions, begins to take its toll on Rose.

As she delves deeper into her past, she is haunted by the most terrifying memory of all. Will she find the courage to bear witness to her mother's ultimate sacrifice?

Praise for Pieces of the Past:

"This work of historical fiction does a wonderful job of describing the experiences of a Jewish child in hiding during the Second World War. Rose’s account is moving, especially as she documents the deaths and disappearances of her family members...The language used and the writing style are very appropriate for the youth audience. While the realities of the Holocaust are not softened, Rose’s diary is not heavy-handed in its approach to the Holocaust. Rose’s reflections are both of the war and of everyday events such that younger readers will identify with Rose as a human being and learn about the tragedy of the Holocaust. Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz ...provides an accessible, yet mature, look at the life of a young Holocaust survivor and could aid students’ understanding of what it would be like to live through the events of the Holocaust". Meredith Harrison-Lim, CM Magazine, Volume XX Number 2, Sept. 13, 2013. Read the full review.

"Carol of the most widely read purveyor of young adult literature...does not condescend to her audience. The prose is crisp and well constructed, the dialogue is authentic, and she demonstrates a willingness to delve into sometimes painful subjects, such as Rose’s witnessing death all about her. As much as so many Holocaust survivors have written their own memoirs in recent years – and Carol Matas pays tribute to the kinds of stories that inspired her to write this book –  in the hands of a polished writer such as Matas, what might have descended into cliché instead results in a gripping and often hopeful read."   Bernie Bellan, The Jewish Post & News. Read the full review

"The author does a nice job of conveying the horror of the war and the significant difficulties of beginning anew without glossing over the reality. The narrative is told simply and movingly, and the characters are believable and well-drawn. Appropriately for the young reading audience, in spite of the weighty subject matter, readers are left feeling hopeful for the resilient Rose." —Leslie A. Kimmelman, Jewish Book Council. Read the full review.

"In Pieces of the Past, her third book in the Dear Canada series, Matas deftly weaves the grim realities of the Holocaust with the hopes and dreams of a young girl rebuilding her life. Through Rose's eyes young readers are given a candid glimpse into the life inside the Warsaw Ghetto as well as hardships faced by an orphan displaced by war. Although the story is poignant and often heart-breaking, readers will be buoyed by Rose's strength and tenacity. Drawing on the story of a war orphan is a unique way to link the story of the Holocaust to Canada. A wonderful resource for students, the inclusion of documents, maps and photos is a powerful reminder of what happened and that Canada itself was culpable in closing its borders to so may Jewish refugees. — Canadian Children's Book News, fall 2013.

Available from:
Chapters Indigo
McNally Robinson

In My Enemies House, holocaust, Nazi Germany, Carol MatasIn My Enemy's House

"Matas is a brilliant writer of historical fiction and this book is a chilling and realistic account of the way some people survived the Second World War." "Remembrance Day Reading for All Ages," Fran Ashdown, North Shore News, Nov. 6, 2013.

"I survived. Protected by the Nazis that killed my family. Could I ever forgive myself?"

With the Nazis ready to herd the remaining Jews of her town into a ghetto, and with her family either scattered or dead, Marisa takes the papers of a Polish girl and goes to Germany in a desperate attempt to survive as a Polish worker. This unflinching account of Marisa's dilemma as a Jew living a lie to survive provides a new perspective on the nature of good and evil.

Available from:  Chapters Indigo  McNally Robinson

Carol Matas Behind Enemy Lines Diary of a young WWII gunnerPUBLISHED IN 2012 – A HIT WITH MIDDLE GRADES
Chosen by the The Canadian Children's Book Centre as one of their "Best Books" for 2012.

Nominated for the 2013 Ontario Library Association Golden Oak Award

Shortlisted for the 2014 Rocky Mountain Book Award (An Alberta Children's Choice Book Awards)
Inspired by a true story of endurance and courage

Eighteen-year-old Sam Frederiksen has come a long way from the Prairies. Trained to be a gunner in a Lancaster bomber during WWII, he is shot down over France. Battered and bruised, he does survive, and joins forces with the French Resistance... only to be betrayed by one of its members.

He and other flyers from various Allied countries are rounded up by the Gestapo and held in Fresnes prison just outside of Paris.Treated as spies, rather than POWs, these men are beaten, some tortured — then sent to Buchenwald Concentration Camp in eastern Germany. It is here, in these wretched conditions, that Sam witnesses the darkest side of humanity — gas chambers, torture and starvation. Yet it is also here that he comes to understand the true resilience and unfathomable courage of the victims.

Praise for Behind Enemy Lines:

"The narrative voice is potent and realistic, and Carol Matas does a marvelous job capturing both the hope and courage in Sam’s personality as well as the terror he feels as he is transported around Nazi occupied territory against his will ... the truth of his situation is never overwrought with heavy-handed factuality or didacticism. Behind Enemy Lines is a fantastic account of one Canadian’s struggles through World War II in occupied France."  Bob Bittner, CM, Volume XVIII Number 23, Feb. 17, 2012. Read the full review.

"What starts as a rip-roaring adventure soon becomes a sobering account of strength in the face of adversity that encompasses the workings of the French Resistance and illuminates the Holocaust from a fresh angle ... the subject matter is difficult but ultimately uplifting."  Elaine Kalman Naves, The Gazette (Montreal) Feb. 17, 2012.

“…an amazing story… a historical adventure…As one event lead to the next I found myself hanging on to find out what will happen to this young yet very brave man next…I am excited to read more I Am Canada books soon and would definitely recommend this book to other history fans like me!” –Cam (grade five), SNAP Clarington.

“The action is relentless and the reader will be turning the pages feverishly to see what happens next… There is no telling here, only masterful revealing through fascinating characters and lively dialogue.” –Resource Links, April 2012.

ORDER Behind Enemy Lines from:

Bookmark and Share Follow me on my blog, A Writer's Diary 
Follow me on Twitter: @carolmatas
Write to me at

Copyright © Carol Matas. All rights reserved.