HOLOCAUST AND WORLD WAR
II FICTION FOR MIDDLE GRADES, TEENS AND YOUNG ADULTS
Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz
Scholastic Canada, February, 2013
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:
Matas...one 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."
Bellan, The Jewish Post & News.
Read the full review
Behind Enemy Lines
A young WWII gunner from the Prairies sees the horrors of war firsthand when he is captured by the Gestapo. Behind Enemy Lines
is partially based on a true incident from WWII, in which 168 Allied
airmen were captured and sent to Buchenwald. Twenty-six of these men
Scholastic Canada, February, 2012
Praise for Behind Enemy Lines:
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.
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.
is 1941. Fourteen-year-old Ben Friedman flees the
horrors of Nazi Germany with his parents and his sister,
leaving behind his grandparents, his friends, his home.
In Seattle, Ben dares to hope that he will finally be
safe. He finds a friend in John, a Japanese-American
boy, but then comes the attack on Pearl Harbor and
everything changes. Fear begins to grow in Ben, fear
that it is all happening again. Where can he be safe?
What should he do? He dreams of Canada, thinking it a
haven, only to find that he has nowhere to turn, nowhere
to run. Perhaps safety is not where or even what he
thinks it is. Perhaps life is not what he imagined at
Published by Orca Book Publishers.
A letter arrived from Sarah, again tucked in
with mail from Uncle Nathaniel.
Our worst fears came to pass. Three huge
bangs on the door. Maman ran to my room and
told me to keep the door closed and not to
come out. Within minutes she came back and
sak down on my bed weeping. "They're taken
him," she said. "To Drancy. Arrested."
I can barely sleep anymore. I keep hearing
that pounding on the door. Sometimes I feel
the sound will explode in my brain. Chère
Devorah, what is wrong with the world? I don't
understnad any of this. Do you?
Your loving cousin, Sarah
The letter from Uncle Nathaniel told of being
arrested, but little else, except another question
about how the visas are going. I could hear Mommy
crying from her bedroom.
During the Second World War, many French Jewish
families tried to send their children to safety
in other countries including Canada. Tragically,
the Canadian government didn't want them and
a number of children who were "cleared" to leave
never made it and were sent to concentration
where they died. This is a story of one family's
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In My Enemy's House
the Nazis ready to herd the remaining Jews of
her town into a ghetto, and with her family either
scattered or dead, Marisa, a Polish Jew whose
blonde hair and blue eyes make it easy for her
to pass as a Christian, takes the papers of a
Polish girl and in that disguise goes to Germany
in a desperate attempt to survive as a Polish
worker. After traveling to Weimar, Marisa finds
work as a servant for the Reymanns, a wealthy
farming family who treat her with dignity and
respect. Their daughter Charlotte becomes fond
of Marisa and wants to be her friend. Marisa's
life with the Reymanns may seem safe, the Reymanns
appear fair, but she can never forget that Herr
Reymann is a high-ranking Nazi official and Charlotte
attends the League of German Maidens.
is hiding in plain sight in her enemy's house.
This novel presents an unflinching account of
Marisa's dilemma as a Jew living a lie in order
to survive and will give readers a new perspective
on the nature of good and evil even as it touches
First published in 1999 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Scholastic Canada. Republished in 2013 by Scholastic Canada.
Why I Wrote In My Enemy's House
While researching another book on the Holocaust,
I came across stories of Jewish families who
lived in Germany during the war and somehow managed
to hide using false papers or moving from place
to place. I immediately realized how amazing
those stories were and wanted to write about
that time and place. I especially wanted to write
about what it was like to live in Nazi Germany.
What did ordinary German people think, what did
they believe? Did they agree with the Nazi ideas?
And if they did, why did they?
When I began my research I advertised for people
who had survived the war living in Germany, expecting
German Jews to respond. A strange thing happened.
Every single person who showed up to be interviewed
was from Poland, and had ended up in Germany
working as slave labor–disguised of course,
as Polish Christians. Sometimes a writer has
to give in when a story wants to be told so badly,
so I changed my focus from German Jews to Polish
Jews who traveled into Germany. All of the people
I interviewed had had to hide their identities
in order to survive. If discovered they certainly
would have been murdered, and each of them told
stories of others they knew who had trusted a
German friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend with
their secret and had been betrayed and handed
over to the authorities. I was able through their
stories to explore what was happening right in
the heart of Nazi Germany. And to ask some very
difficult questions about what we are capable
of as human beings, for good and for evil.
GREATER THAN ANGELS
in this whole area is working to save us, even
knowing what could happen to them if they are
In the autumn of 1940, when Anna Hirsch, her
friends, and her family are rounded up by Nazis
and deported to Gurs, a refugee camp in the south
of France, they see little hope on the horizon.
Food is scarce, and the living conditions inhuman.
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 at Gurs 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. As the war
rages on and the Germans gain more control in
France, Jews – and those who shelter them – are
sought with increased vigor, and when they are
found, the punishment is severe. Yet even in
the face of Nazi atrocities, and regardless of
the risk to themselves, the good people of LeChambon
continue to protect the refugees who seek cover
in their homes.
In this story – based on actual occurrences
during the German occupation of France – award-winning
author Carol Matas unveils a contagious goodness
that permeated one corner of a region otherwise
enveloped in evil, and celebrates the courage
that made these citizens "greater than angels."
Published first by
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Scholastic
Available in paperback from Scholastic Canada in Canada,
and Simon and Schuster in the United States.
"If you haven't read Greater Than Angels, it's
time… a gripping, amazing read." – The
"Intelligently written and emotionally powerful." – Quill & Quire
Why I wrote Greater Than Angels
I first encountered the story of the people
of Le Chambon when I was in St. Paul, Minn. giving
a lecture about my book Lisa. I was talking
about why the Danish people saved their Jewish
population during World War Two when so many
other people and countries hated their Jewish
neighbours and either didn't help them or actively
helped the Nazis. At the same conference, a film
called Weapons Of The Spirit was shown.
It was the moving story of a man whose parents
were saved by the people of Le Chambon in France.
At the time I thought I would like to write about
this – it was a similar story to Lisa – people
who risked their lives to save others.
After writing Daniel's Story, I visited
the United States Holocaust Museum, when it opened.
In the museum was an exhibit on Le Chambon and
again I was reminded of this story. It stayed
in the back of my mind until I finished all the
projects I was working on, and then I decided
to tell this story.
I researched the book by going to New York where
I interviewed people who had hidden in Le Chambon
during the war. The people were amazing, their
stories inspiring. Le Chambon was a small farming
village surrounded by farms. The pastor was a
man called Pastor Trocmé, who was a pacifist.
He didn't believe in fighting, so at the start
of the war he opposed fighting the Germans, which
got him in a lot of trouble. But once the Germans
occupied France, he refused to collaborate with
them. Although the French had promised to protect
their Jewish population, they broke that promise
as soon as France was invaded. (Unlike the Danish
people who never betrayed their Jewish population)
But Pastor Trocmé and the people of Le
Chambon helped to hide as many Jews as arrived
there – and not only Jews, anyone who was
fleeing the Nazis found refuge there.
exciting tale of teenagers in the Danish resistence…full
of suspense…"–Janet Lunn
The city is Copenhagen and the year is 1940.
Lisa is 12 years old, a bright high-spirited
girl looking forward to the fund and independence
of being a teenager.
Then Lisa and her family are awakend early one
morning by the roar or warplanes – Hitler
is invading Denmark. The small country is overrun
within the day, and the hardships and persecutions
of enemy occupation begin.
When Lisa realizes that her older brother, Stefan,
has joined the Danish resistance, she insists
on helping too. She becomes a secret messeanger
with the thrilling, terrifying job of distributing
leaflets under the very noses of the German soldiers.
But as the war goes on the German occupation
becomes more bilent, and word spreads of Hitler's
visious campaign against the Jews in neighbouring
countries. For the Jews of Denmark–including
Lisa, who is now fifteen–time is runing
out; and Lisa and her best friend, Suzanne, set
aside their dreams of dating and romance to beome
full partners in the heart-stopping world of
Published in Canada by Lester & Orpen Dennys
Published as Lisa's War in the United States.
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is a time when nothing is safe, and no one can
be trusted. There are German soldiers everywhere;
worse yet, there are Danes who secretly spy on
their neighbours in exchange for extra food or
money. Despite the terrible danger, though, teenage
Jesper risks everything to work for the resistance.
The Second World War is at its height. Like
most of Europe, the small nation of Denmark has
been overrun by Hitler's armies. Food and supplies
are rationed, newspapers are censored, and Danes
who resist are jailed, tortured, even shot. But
Jesper and his friends in the resistance defy
the Germans–and put their lives on the line–by
publishing an underground newspaperto tell people
what is reaally hapening in the war, and carrying
out desperate feats of military sabotage–with
the Germans constantly at their heels.
Jesper is a thrilling novel of determination,
courage, and love. It is also a tale of twisted
loyalties, ruthlessness and betrayal, and the
darker side of heroism.
Published in Canada by Lester & Orpen Dennys
Published as Code Name Kris in the United States.
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barely remembers leading a normal life before
the Nazis came to power in 1933. He can still
picture once being happy and safe, but memories
of those days are fading as he and his family
face the dangers threatening Jews in Hitler's
Germany in the late 1930's. No longer able to
practice their religion, vote, own property,
or even work, Daniel's family is forced from
their home in Frankfurt and sent on a long and
dangerous journey, first to the Lodz ghetto in
Poland, and then to Auschwitz – the Nazi
death camp. Though many around him lose hope
in the face of such terror, Daniel, supported
by his courageous family, struggles for survival.
He finds hope, life and even love in the midst
Published by Scholastic Inc.in conjunction with the
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
AFTER THE WAR
"Didn't the gas ovens finish you all off?" is
the response that meets Ruth Mendenberg when
she returns to her village in Poland after the
liberation of Buchenwald at the end of World
War II. Her entire family wiped out in the Holocaust,
the fifteen-year-old girl has nowhere to go.
Members of the underground organization Brichah
find her, and she joins them in their dangerous
quest to smuggle illegal immigrants to Palestine.
Ruth risks her life to help lead a group of children
on a daring journey over half a continent and
across the sea to Eretz Israel, using secret
routes and forged documents – and sheer
force of will.
This adventure will touch readers, who will
marvel at the resources and inner strength of
mere children, helping other children to find
a place in the world in which they can belong.
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
and Scholastic Canada.
NOTE TO TEACHERS: Study guides to accompany this novel available HERE.
"I look at my garden and wonder if we will end
up like that in the weeks and months to come – broken,
crushed. After all, there are millions of Arabs
and so few of us. If they decide to fight, how
could we survive?"
Ruth Mendenberg, survivor of the Buchenwald
concentration camp, has helped a group of other
young refugees flee Poland. They have been smuggled
into Palestine and now live on a kibbutz, trying
to forget, trying to forge a new life, longing
for only one thing – peace. Ruth's solace
comes from tending her garden, where she has
found beauty and tranquility. But her respite
does not last long.
The United Nations is preparing to vote on
a plan that would partition Palestine into two
separate lands, one for the Arabs and one for
the Jews. The Arabs are ready to fight to prevent
partition, and the British government does little
to stop the escalating hostilities.
Ruth's brother, Simon, belongs to the Irgun,
a terrorist group ready to bomb their enemies.
Ruth herself has joined the Haganah, which believes
in fighting only in self-defence. How far will
they have to go before they find the peace and
safety of a place they can finally call home?
Published by Scholastic Canada Ltd.
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Copyright © Carol Matas. All rights reserved.