CAROL MATAS, AWARD-WINNING WRITER FOR YOUNG READERS

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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 2104 Sydney Taylor Honor Book Selection for Older Readers
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

Pieces of the Past, Holocaust Diary, Carol MatasA 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:
"Carol 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."
  Bernie Bellan, The Jewish Post & News. Read the full review

"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.

"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:
Amazon.ca
Chapters Indigo
McNally Robinson

Behind Enemy Lines: World War II, Sam Frederiksen, Nazi-Occupied Europe, 1944
Scholastic Canada, February, 2012

Carol Matas Behind Enemy Lines Diary of a young WWII gunnerA 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 were Canadian.

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.
  • 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)
Available from:

The Whirlwind

The Whirlwind by Carol Matas. 14-yr-old German holocaust refugee battles his demons in SeattleIt 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 all.

Published by Orca Book Publishers.

 

 

Turned Away

Turned Away by Carol Matas. Jews fleeing World War II holocaust refused entry to CanadaJanuary 9,

A letter arrived from Sarah, again tucked in with mail from Uncle Nathaniel.

Chère Devorah,

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 camps where they died. This is a story of one family's struggle.

Scholastic Canada.
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In My Enemy's House

In My Enemy's House, Nazi Germany, Holocaust fiction, YA, Carol Matas With 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.

Marisa 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 their hearts.

First published in 1999 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Scholastic Canada. Republished in 2013 by Scholastic Canada.

"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.


Why I Wrote In My Enemy's House

In My Enemy's House by Carol Matas. Polish Jewess escapes extermination by working in a Nazi household in PolandWhile 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

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.
 "Everyone in this whole area is working to save us, even knowing what could happen to them if they are caught."

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 Canada.
Available in paperback from Scholastic Canada in Canada, and Simon and Schuster in the United States.
Republished in 2013 by Scholastic Canada.

"If you haven't read Greater Than Angels, it's time… a gripping, amazing read." – The Toronto Star

"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.

Lisa

Lisa by Carol Matas. 12-yr-old Jewish girl joins Danish resistance in World War II"An 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 armed resistance.

Published in Canada by Lester & Orpen Dennys
Published as Lisa's War in the United States.

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Jesper

Jesper by Carol Matas. Danish boy fights the Germans in occupied Denmark during World War IIIt 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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DANIEL'S STORY

Daniel's Story by Carol Matas. Saga of a young Jewish boy in the Nazi death camps of World War II Daniel 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 of despair.

Published by Scholastic Inc.in conjunction with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

AFTER THE WAR

After the War by Carol Matas. Homeless holocaust survivor leaves Europe for a new life in Palestine."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.

THE GARDEN

The Garden by Carol Matas. Sequel to After the War. Young refugee gifl fights in Israel's War of Independence."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.

To write to me, e-mail carol@carolmatas.com
Copyright © Carol Matas. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2016 Carol Matas. All rights reserved.