Historical Novels for Children: The Post-War World

Many of the novels in this list explore what it was like in the years following World War II as people tried to make sense of the world and their place in it. The list includes books that tell the stories of immigrants who came to America in an effort to fulfill their dreams of a safe and prosperous life for themselves and their families. However, many of these people encountered shocking instances of racism, which afflicted other minorities in America as well. These stories are important for understanding where we came from and how far we still need to go to achieve true freedom for all American citizens.

This era continues to a more modern time period in both America and the world, including the Vietnam Era and the late twentieth century.

Many of the novels in this list explore what it was like in the years following World War II as people tried to make sense of the world and their place in it. The list includes books that tell the stories of immigrants who came to America in an effort to fulfill their dreams of a safe and prosperous life for themselves and their families. However, many of these people encountered shocking instances of racism, which afflicted other minorities in America as well. These stories are important for understanding where we came from and how far we still need to go to achieve true freedom for all American citizens.

This era continues to a more modern time period in both America and the world, including the Vietnam Era and the late twentieth century.

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Beyond the Yellow Star to America

Author: Auerbacher, Inge

Subjects: History; Personal Experience; Jewish History; Holocaust; Immigration

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

ISBN: 0-88092-252-4

Order code: 2524

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 2524S

Beyond the Yellow Star to America Cover

New York Public Library Choice, Books for the Teenage Reader
New York State Deptartment of Education Yavner Award
Kansas State Reading Circle Choice
Ellis Island Award

Inge Auerbacher’s first book, I Am a Star: Child of the Holocaust, won the coveted Merit of Educational Distinction award from the International Center for Holocaust Studies of the B’nai Brith Anti-Defamation League. It covers her childhood years up to age eleven and her internment in the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, ending with the Allied Liberation in 1945.

Inge’s second book, Beyond the Yellow Star to America, carries readers into Inge's world of being an immigrant in America, at once dealing with her own psychological and physiological growing up—dealing with the usual challenges of group acceptance, self-esteem, and peer pressure—as well as the external world of being an outsider to American culture. Inge tells her story through a series of sequential vignettes reinforced by many photographs.

Following a brief historical background, we arrive with Inge in New York Harbor in 1946 aboard the Marine Perch, an American troop transport ship, and travel with her through her life’s turning points against the 1940s, '50s, and '60s settings of New York’s East Side, Brooklyn, and Queens. We revisit Europe with her. We experience the hot and cold factions of her Americanized relatives, the resolve of her parents to achieve in the American economic mainstream in spite of the physical odds against them during their first steps to independence, and Inge’s struggle against her private, ongoing physical nightmare of having been a child of the Holocaust, all of which will fill readers with pride in the positive qualities of the human spirit and its determina­tion to survive.

Inge’s personal psychological fuel from the past drives her dynamism and ideals of today for the betterment of humankind. She is an activist for tolerance. She is an accomplished motivational public speaker for brotherhood through education and com­munication against bigotry and other manipulative tactics that divide humanity into isolated groups.

Reviews:

“This is a first-rate, moving autobiographical account of life as a refugee and what it takes to step beyond past pain and create a meaningful life.... A truly wonderful complement to The Diary of Anne Frank.” – VOYA Magazine

“...simple, deeply effective prose.... Students studying the Holocaust will benefit from Inge’s per­spective and empathize with her experiences. Recommended for junior high school students." – KLI­ATT Magazine

New York Public Library Choice, Books for the Teenage Reader
New York State Deptartment of Education Yavner Award
Kansas State Reading Circle Choice
Ellis Island Award

Inge Auerbacher’s first book, I Am a Star: Child of the Holocaust, won the coveted Merit of Educational Distinction award from the International Center for Holocaust Studies of the B’nai Brith Anti-Defamation League. It covers her childhood years up to age eleven and her internment in the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, ending with the Allied Liberation in 1945.

Inge’s second book, Beyond the Yellow Star to America, carries readers into Inge's world of being an immigrant in America, at once dealing with her own psychological and physiological growing up—dealing with the usual challenges of group acceptance, self-esteem, and peer pressure—as well as the external world of being an outsider to American culture. Inge tells her story through a series of sequential vignettes reinforced by many photographs.

Following a brief historical background, we arrive with Inge in New York Harbor in 1946 aboard the Marine Perch, an American troop transport ship, and travel with her through her life’s turning points against the 1940s, '50s, and '60s settings of New York’s East Side, Brooklyn, and Queens. We revisit Europe with her. We experience the hot and cold factions of her Americanized relatives, the resolve of her parents to achieve in the American economic mainstream in spite of the physical odds against them during their first steps to independence, and Inge’s struggle against her private, ongoing physical nightmare of having been a child of the Holocaust, all of which will fill readers with pride in the positive qualities of the human spirit and its determina­tion to survive.

Inge’s personal psychological fuel from the past drives her dynamism and ideals of today for the betterment of humankind. She is an activist for tolerance. She is an accomplished motivational public speaker for brotherhood through education and com­munication against bigotry and other manipulative tactics that divide humanity into isolated groups.

Reviews:

“This is a first-rate, moving autobiographical account of life as a refugee and what it takes to step beyond past pain and create a meaningful life.... A truly wonderful complement to The Diary of Anne Frank.” – VOYA Magazine

“...simple, deeply effective prose.... Students studying the Holocaust will benefit from Inge’s per­spective and empathize with her experiences. Recommended for junior high school students." – KLI­ATT Magazine

Beyond the Yellow Star to America Cover

The Summer of My First Pediddle

Author: Moiles, Steven

Subjects: American History; Family Relationships; Prejudice; McCarthyism; Social Relationships

Age: 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 9, 10, 11, 12

Order code: 1226

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 1226S

The Summer of My First Pediddle Cover

“...an engaging story.... Teenage readers will relate...would work well in a unit on prejudice..." – VOYA Magazine

"Moiles is a fine writer who understands the impact of bigotry and intolerance and the agonies of young people caught up in events they can't control." – Robert Cormier

The setting is eastern Illinois and Washington, D.C., during the McCarthy Era—that period in the 1950s when the beliefs and social lives of average citizens were subject to intense, microscopic scrutiny by governmental agencies.

David Thatcher is a fourteen-year-old whose father, a Washington, D.C.-based Army colonel in charge of a supplies office, has been subpoenaed to appear before Joseph McCarthy’s Senate committee. The story revolves around David’s reactions to McCarthyism and his confused feelings about his father’s case. We follow David through the most important three months of his life as he grows up and begins to process information and think for himself. He begins to build an accurate values system as he separates reality from appearances, recognizes how facts can be distorted by twists or by omissions to lead to incorrect conclusions, understands the workings of guilt by association, becomes aware of the manipulative powers of the media, and sees how dramatic presentation techniques can misuse television in presenting “live” coverage of events to viewers. David learns that friendship, loyalty, love, and truth are paramount.

Two subplots further explore the concept of love. Its romantic viewpoint is expressed through David’s relationship with Joy. She is an intelligent, beautiful, open-minded, sensitive teenager. Family love with the purpose of manipulation is epitomized by David's soft-spoken, seemingly genuine grandfather.

“...an engaging story.... Teenage readers will relate...would work well in a unit on prejudice..." – VOYA Magazine

"Moiles is a fine writer who understands the impact of bigotry and intolerance and the agonies of young people caught up in events they can't control." – Robert Cormier

The setting is eastern Illinois and Washington, D.C., during the McCarthy Era—that period in the 1950s when the beliefs and social lives of average citizens were subject to intense, microscopic scrutiny by governmental agencies.

David Thatcher is a fourteen-year-old whose father, a Washington, D.C.-based Army colonel in charge of a supplies office, has been subpoenaed to appear before Joseph McCarthy’s Senate committee. The story revolves around David’s reactions to McCarthyism and his confused feelings about his father’s case. We follow David through the most important three months of his life as he grows up and begins to process information and think for himself. He begins to build an accurate values system as he separates reality from appearances, recognizes how facts can be distorted by twists or by omissions to lead to incorrect conclusions, understands the workings of guilt by association, becomes aware of the manipulative powers of the media, and sees how dramatic presentation techniques can misuse television in presenting “live” coverage of events to viewers. David learns that friendship, loyalty, love, and truth are paramount.

Two subplots further explore the concept of love. Its romantic viewpoint is expressed through David’s relationship with Joy. She is an intelligent, beautiful, open-minded, sensitive teenager. Family love with the purpose of manipulation is epitomized by David's soft-spoken, seemingly genuine grandfather.

The Summer of My First Pediddle Cover

We Have to Escape

Author: Makranczy, Judit

Subjects: Personal Experience; Immigration; European History; Cold War; Hungarian Revolution of 1956

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Order code: 3733

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 3733S

We Have to Escape Cover

Twelve-year-old Andras is the best soccer player on the team at his new school. But his teammates, jealous of his natural abilities, tease and harass him mercilessly. When he decides to quit the team, Jennifer, the sister of one of the players, intercedes and offers him the kind words and support he needs to open up and tell the amazing story he has kept secret.

Andras begins with the terrifying night the Hungarian Secret Police arrested his father and mother in his hometown of Budapest, Hungary. He tells the poignant story of his family’s daring and frightening journey to the United States. Knowing they will be shot if they are captured, Andras and his family plan their escape, obtaining the forged documents necessary to leave their shattered city for freedom in America. Along with his parents, grandfather, and three sisters, he encounters terrifying situations as the family heads for the border. And his once-boyish hopes for adventure turn into abject fear of those life-threatening events. The family must survive the terror of bullets, border guards, prison, and dangerous crossings as they begin their journey to freedom and acceptance in a strange land.

We Have to Escape is the true story of an exciting and terror-filled escape to America and how, once in the U.S., life for Andras seemed to be unjustly chaotic as he tried to fit into a strange culture.

Judit Makranczy was born in Budapest, Hungary. Her novel depicts the events of her family’s triumphs and tragedies as they fled their war-torn country to come to America.

Twelve-year-old Andras is the best soccer player on the team at his new school. But his teammates, jealous of his natural abilities, tease and harass him mercilessly. When he decides to quit the team, Jennifer, the sister of one of the players, intercedes and offers him the kind words and support he needs to open up and tell the amazing story he has kept secret.

Andras begins with the terrifying night the Hungarian Secret Police arrested his father and mother in his hometown of Budapest, Hungary. He tells the poignant story of his family’s daring and frightening journey to the United States. Knowing they will be shot if they are captured, Andras and his family plan their escape, obtaining the forged documents necessary to leave their shattered city for freedom in America. Along with his parents, grandfather, and three sisters, he encounters terrifying situations as the family heads for the border. And his once-boyish hopes for adventure turn into abject fear of those life-threatening events. The family must survive the terror of bullets, border guards, prison, and dangerous crossings as they begin their journey to freedom and acceptance in a strange land.

We Have to Escape is the true story of an exciting and terror-filled escape to America and how, once in the U.S., life for Andras seemed to be unjustly chaotic as he tried to fit into a strange culture.

Judit Makranczy was born in Budapest, Hungary. Her novel depicts the events of her family’s triumphs and tragedies as they fled their war-torn country to come to America.

We Have to Escape Cover

Moves

Author: Horn, Douglas C.

Subjects: Bullying; Immigration; Judo and Aikido; Japanese-Americans; Social Relationships

Age: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Grade: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Order code: 1501

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 1501S

Moves Cover

Moves is the story of Hiro, a boy from Nagoya, Japan, who moves to a small town in Montana when his father is sent there to run a company-owned cattle ranch. Hiro quickly becomes the favorite target of the school bully but feels that he cannot talk about his problems with his parents, who are already discussing sending him back to Japan and experiencing problems of their own with American society.

In the privacy of his room, Hiro is comforted by his Aikido equipment and training. He quickly adapts to Judo lessons taught by a black sensei who is as sensitive to Hiro’s needs as he is strong. Hiro’s Judo lessons catapult him to peer acceptance and help him to establish an important first friendship. He learns to confront his problems but with temperance and understanding. He comes to understand the psychological pressure on his father, whose concept of leadership is colored by his social separation. His mother suffers from loneliness and boredom until she takes an active role in seeking a friend—in spite of the language barrier.

Douglas Horn called upon his experiences living in Japan and the American West to create Hiro’s world. The Judo scenes in the novel reflect Horn's familiarity with Judo and the related discipline of Aikido, which he teaches in his free time.

Moves is the story of Hiro, a boy from Nagoya, Japan, who moves to a small town in Montana when his father is sent there to run a company-owned cattle ranch. Hiro quickly becomes the favorite target of the school bully but feels that he cannot talk about his problems with his parents, who are already discussing sending him back to Japan and experiencing problems of their own with American society.

In the privacy of his room, Hiro is comforted by his Aikido equipment and training. He quickly adapts to Judo lessons taught by a black sensei who is as sensitive to Hiro’s needs as he is strong. Hiro’s Judo lessons catapult him to peer acceptance and help him to establish an important first friendship. He learns to confront his problems but with temperance and understanding. He comes to understand the psychological pressure on his father, whose concept of leadership is colored by his social separation. His mother suffers from loneliness and boredom until she takes an active role in seeking a friend—in spite of the language barrier.

Douglas Horn called upon his experiences living in Japan and the American West to create Hiro’s world. The Judo scenes in the novel reflect Horn's familiarity with Judo and the related discipline of Aikido, which he teaches in his free time.

Moves Cover

My Friend in Africa

Author: Franck, Frederick

Subjects: History; Personal Experience; Africa; Medicine; Schweitzer, Dr. Albert

Age: 8, 9, 10

Grade: 3, 4, 5

ISBN: 978-0-88092-325-5

Order code: 3253

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 3253S

My Friend in Africa Cover

This is the story of a young African boy who is brought to Schweitzer’s clinic for an infection in his foot. There, he comes to admire the doctor and wishes to become a doctor himself, but before he can do so, there is much he has to learn and unlearn. He finds a place and a set of duties at the hospital, only to be sent away by Dr. Schweitzer when his foot has healed. He later returns as a doctor.

My Friend in Africa is based on a true story and is delightfully illustrated by Dr. Franck. It was originally published as a joint publication with the Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities.

This is the story of a young African boy who is brought to Schweitzer’s clinic for an infection in his foot. There, he comes to admire the doctor and wishes to become a doctor himself, but before he can do so, there is much he has to learn and unlearn. He finds a place and a set of duties at the hospital, only to be sent away by Dr. Schweitzer when his foot has healed. He later returns as a doctor.

My Friend in Africa is based on a true story and is delightfully illustrated by Dr. Franck. It was originally published as a joint publication with the Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities.

My Friend in Africa Cover

The African Term

Author: Hagen, Michael

Subjects: History; Peace Corps; Africa

Age: 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Order code: 3687

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 3687S

The African Term Cover

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps as a governmental agency whose aims were to raise living standards in developing countries and to promote international friendship and understanding. Peace Corps projects were established at the request of the host country, and volunteer personnel usually served two years.

The African Term is set in Addis Ababa, 1962. Tom Berk, a 42-year-old accountant-turned-teacher, has answered the Peace Corps call. There are 32 male students ranging in age from 12 to 24 occupying 16 double wooden desks in his gray, non-windowed classroom. A single 60-watt bulb hangs from the center of the ceiling. All of the students wear shorts and white shirts. Some do not wear shoes. Berk wears a busi­ness suit. Here, schooling is a great honor, and the students are outwardly respectful. All eyes are on the new teacher from America who will teach English, but one pair cannot mask its dislike.

Fifteen-year-old Sahle Kifle is filled with mistrust for the American; he is clear about his reasons in his conversations with his friends. However, he is one of the fortunate to go to school, so he must abide by Berk’s rules. He is not impressed by Berk’s ability to write in Ahmeric and to speak his language or by Berk’s preference to live among the local inhabitants. But as his friends begin to appreciate the teacher’s efforts to teach with understanding and in a friendly atmos­phere, Sahle begins to soften, much against his own wishes. By the time Berk must leave, pre­maturely, to go to his sick father’s bedside back in America, an understanding friendship has developed between the two; Berk appreciates Sahle’s intelligence, and Sahle trusts Berk.

The author handles Berk’s world in Addis Ababa outside of the classroom brilliantly. Unforgettable are his trek to get there, his house boy’s antics, the foods, the smells, the grit of the dirt, and the sound of the bugs. The school hierarchy and the punishment it doles out for minor infractions is striking. And Sahle’s home life and family relationships are relat­ed as naturally as if the reader was a casual eavesdropper in the kitchen.

Michael Hagen is an accomplished stage actor and screenplay writer who was in the Peace Corps. He is also the author of the historical novels Klaus and Sail to Caribee, both of which are published by Royal Fireworks Press.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps as a governmental agency whose aims were to raise living standards in developing countries and to promote international friendship and understanding. Peace Corps projects were established at the request of the host country, and volunteer personnel usually served two years.

The African Term is set in Addis Ababa, 1962. Tom Berk, a 42-year-old accountant-turned-teacher, has answered the Peace Corps call. There are 32 male students ranging in age from 12 to 24 occupying 16 double wooden desks in his gray, non-windowed classroom. A single 60-watt bulb hangs from the center of the ceiling. All of the students wear shorts and white shirts. Some do not wear shoes. Berk wears a busi­ness suit. Here, schooling is a great honor, and the students are outwardly respectful. All eyes are on the new teacher from America who will teach English, but one pair cannot mask its dislike.

Fifteen-year-old Sahle Kifle is filled with mistrust for the American; he is clear about his reasons in his conversations with his friends. However, he is one of the fortunate to go to school, so he must abide by Berk’s rules. He is not impressed by Berk’s ability to write in Ahmeric and to speak his language or by Berk’s preference to live among the local inhabitants. But as his friends begin to appreciate the teacher’s efforts to teach with understanding and in a friendly atmos­phere, Sahle begins to soften, much against his own wishes. By the time Berk must leave, pre­maturely, to go to his sick father’s bedside back in America, an understanding friendship has developed between the two; Berk appreciates Sahle’s intelligence, and Sahle trusts Berk.

The author handles Berk’s world in Addis Ababa outside of the classroom brilliantly. Unforgettable are his trek to get there, his house boy’s antics, the foods, the smells, the grit of the dirt, and the sound of the bugs. The school hierarchy and the punishment it doles out for minor infractions is striking. And Sahle’s home life and family relationships are relat­ed as naturally as if the reader was a casual eavesdropper in the kitchen.

Michael Hagen is an accomplished stage actor and screenplay writer who was in the Peace Corps. He is also the author of the historical novels Klaus and Sail to Caribee, both of which are published by Royal Fireworks Press.

The African Term Cover

Hold On Tight

Author: Klassen, Heather

Subjects: American History; Vietnam War; Family Relationships; Peace Movement

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Grade: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

ISBN: 978-0-88092-716-1

Order code: 7161

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Hold On Tight Cover

It’s the 1960s, a time when America and families were being torn apart by the Vietnam War. When Suzanne’s older brother Bobby is drafted, Suzanne’s mother wants them all to move to Canada, but he enlists to fight. Suzanne and her mother join the protesters against the war, but Suzanne’s father thinks that patriotic Americans should support the war the way they did when he fought in World War II. The divisions in the family reflect the divisions in the country when differences about the war played a major part in fomenting hostile confrontations throughout the land.

Against a background of box hockey games, the first landing on the moon, and the music of Bob Dylan, Suzanne not only has to contend with missing her brother, she also must see her mother’s pain and watch her parents grow distant from each other amidst their resentment. She also has to decide where she herself stands on the issues, to cope with the consequences, and to deal with her brother's ultimate fate.

This novel provides vivid insights into the era and into the disagreements that defined a decade that brought tragedy to so many.

Author Heather Klassen is a writer of books for children and young adults. She has more than 400 short stories published, including award-winning pieces in Highlights for Children. One of her stories was reprinted in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II (1998). Through her writing, she is interested in trying to influence young people to think about social issues, particularly those of peace and justice. As a child in the '60s, she was greatly affected by the Vietnam War, but Hold On Tight is a fictional account. Klassen says that Suzanne’s voice “just came to me. It was easy to let her tell her story, influenced so much by the love she had for her older brother.”

Klassen has a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in child development. She is an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature. She is married with two grown children and lives in Lynnwood, Washington. 

Review:

"This is a beautiful, moving novella with a great deal of meaning.... Klassen writes with a lyrical, almost stream-of-consciousness style that is unique in children’s books these days. I read the first two chapters with my seven-year-old at bedtime, and he loved it so much that he woke up early the next morning to finish it on his own. Kudos to Royal Fireworks for publishing this. They took a risk on a story worth telling." – parent 

It’s the 1960s, a time when America and families were being torn apart by the Vietnam War. When Suzanne’s older brother Bobby is drafted, Suzanne’s mother wants them all to move to Canada, but he enlists to fight. Suzanne and her mother join the protesters against the war, but Suzanne’s father thinks that patriotic Americans should support the war the way they did when he fought in World War II. The divisions in the family reflect the divisions in the country when differences about the war played a major part in fomenting hostile confrontations throughout the land.

Against a background of box hockey games, the first landing on the moon, and the music of Bob Dylan, Suzanne not only has to contend with missing her brother, she also must see her mother’s pain and watch her parents grow distant from each other amidst their resentment. She also has to decide where she herself stands on the issues, to cope with the consequences, and to deal with her brother's ultimate fate.

This novel provides vivid insights into the era and into the disagreements that defined a decade that brought tragedy to so many.

Author Heather Klassen is a writer of books for children and young adults. She has more than 400 short stories published, including award-winning pieces in Highlights for Children. One of her stories was reprinted in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II (1998). Through her writing, she is interested in trying to influence young people to think about social issues, particularly those of peace and justice. As a child in the '60s, she was greatly affected by the Vietnam War, but Hold On Tight is a fictional account. Klassen says that Suzanne’s voice “just came to me. It was easy to let her tell her story, influenced so much by the love she had for her older brother.”

Klassen has a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in child development. She is an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature. She is married with two grown children and lives in Lynnwood, Washington. 

Review:

"This is a beautiful, moving novella with a great deal of meaning.... Klassen writes with a lyrical, almost stream-of-consciousness style that is unique in children’s books these days. I read the first two chapters with my seven-year-old at bedtime, and he loved it so much that he woke up early the next morning to finish it on his own. Kudos to Royal Fireworks for publishing this. They took a risk on a story worth telling." – parent

Hold On Tight Cover

Hold On Tight Sample Pages:

Strangers in Black

Author: Max, Jill

Subjects: History; Personal Experience; Khmer Rouge

Age: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

ISBN: 978-0-88092-617-1

Order code: 6171

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 6171S

Strangers in Black Cover

This is a novel about a young boy's struggle to survive the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. It is a graphic and horrific account of what befalls Mok and his family when Pol Pot's regime ousts the corrupt president Lon Nol. At first the people of Cambodia are happy, but their joy ends quickly when they discover that the Khmer Rouge are brutal assassins who beat, starve, and force even young children to work in inhumane conditions, all while spewing propaganda that they are serving a greater good.

Mok is nine years old when the atrocities begin, and through persistence, incredible courage, and luck, he survives one of the most barbaric episodes in the last half of the twentieth century. On page after page, readers are led into the increasingly desperate plight of Mok and to an understanding of the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge and the enormity of what took place in Cambodia.

This true story describes young Mok's experiences of the grinding pains of hunger, debilitating disease, forced labor, separated families, and massacres. An epilogue tells us that his family finally made it to a refugee camp in Thailand and thereafter was sponsored to enter the U.S. to begin a new life in Oklahoma.

This is a novel about a young boy's struggle to survive the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. It is a graphic and horrific account of what befalls Mok and his family when Pol Pot's regime ousts the corrupt president Lon Nol. At first the people of Cambodia are happy, but their joy ends quickly when they discover that the Khmer Rouge are brutal assassins who beat, starve, and force even young children to work in inhumane conditions, all while spewing propaganda that they are serving a greater good.

Mok is nine years old when the atrocities begin, and through persistence, incredible courage, and luck, he survives one of the most barbaric episodes in the last half of the twentieth century. On page after page, readers are led into the increasingly desperate plight of Mok and to an understanding of the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge and the enormity of what took place in Cambodia.

This true story describes young Mok's experiences of the grinding pains of hunger, debilitating disease, forced labor, separated families, and massacres. An epilogue tells us that his family finally made it to a refugee camp in Thailand and thereafter was sponsored to enter the U.S. to begin a new life in Oklahoma.

Strangers in Black Cover

Strangers in Black Sample Pages:

My Country: My Lee Comes to America

Author: Beyer, Elmira K.

Subjects: Immigration; English as a Second Language (ESL); Hmong; Cross-Cultural Understanding

Age: 8, 9, 10, 11

Grade: 3, 4, 5, 6

Order code: 0440

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 0440S

My Country: My Lee Comes to America Cover

A Kansas State Reading Council Choice: “A realistic look at one of America’s new young immigrants”

My Lee Comes to America is the story of a Hmong family recently arrived in America, where traditions and everyday life are drastically different from those of their former home. The family moves into a mixed neighborhood and enrolls the children in a school with an ESL program; so begins the family’s adaptation to new ways while maintaining their own traditional ethical and moral values. The book explores the problems of being accepted into the neighborhood, male/female roles and expectations, the family view of education in general and for girls in particular, and the problems the children and the adults encounter from their lack of knowledge of the English language.

The novel is written from the perspective of little My Lee, who acts for readers as a bridge between the two worlds of her family and the wider American culture. Intelligent and respectful, her experiences and her thoughts about them show us problems in the making and their thoughtful resolutions. While demurring to her older brother and his role, she is personally concerned with making friends and participating in school activities that in America are normal for all students but are frowned upon for girls in her family’s culture. And she desperately wants to learn to play the violin.

A Kansas State Reading Council Choice: “A realistic look at one of America’s new young immigrants”

My Lee Comes to America is the story of a Hmong family recently arrived in America, where traditions and everyday life are drastically different from those of their former home. The family moves into a mixed neighborhood and enrolls the children in a school with an ESL program; so begins the family’s adaptation to new ways while maintaining their own traditional ethical and moral values. The book explores the problems of being accepted into the neighborhood, male/female roles and expectations, the family view of education in general and for girls in particular, and the problems the children and the adults encounter from their lack of knowledge of the English language.

The novel is written from the perspective of little My Lee, who acts for readers as a bridge between the two worlds of her family and the wider American culture. Intelligent and respectful, her experiences and her thoughts about them show us problems in the making and their thoughtful resolutions. While demurring to her older brother and his role, she is personally concerned with making friends and participating in school activities that in America are normal for all students but are frowned upon for girls in her family’s culture. And she desperately wants to learn to play the violin.

My Country: My Lee Comes to America Cover

A Good Courage

Author: Tolan, Stephanie S.

Subjects: Abuse; Cults; Family; Social Relationships

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

ISBN: 978-0-88092-781-9

Order code: 7819

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 7819S

A Good Courage Cover

A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

Fourteen-year-old Ty Rainey’s mother has found heaven on earth at a reclusive commune called "the Kingdom." But Ty soon discovers that the children, separated from their parents, are treated essentially as slaves, and the punishment for defying the rules is harsh. Ty knows that he must find the courage to rebel, but how can he when the price for doing so may be his freedom, his sanity, or even his life?

Ty becomes a popular storyteller with the children, and although education is strictly forbidden, he secretly teaches one of the younger boys to read. He has one ally in Samarah, who, at great cost to herself, pledges to help him. Their "keepers" are truly terrifying, and the punishments are cruel, but Ty's mother is too caught up in the culture of the place to believe his claims of abuse. If he's going to escape, he realizes, he'll have to do it without her.

This reissued novel is gripping, complex, and enthralling.

Reviews:

A spellbinding, action-packed cautionary tale.” – Kirkus Reviews

This well-told survival story is frightening in its examination of cults and communes. An entirely realistic plot peopled by distinctive, believable characters that will be long remembered.– School Library Journal

A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

Fourteen-year-old Ty Rainey’s mother has found heaven on earth at a reclusive commune called "the Kingdom." But Ty soon discovers that the children, separated from their parents, are treated essentially as slaves, and the punishment for defying the rules is harsh. Ty knows that he must find the courage to rebel, but how can he when the price for doing so may be his freedom, his sanity, or even his life?

Ty becomes a popular storyteller with the children, and although education is strictly forbidden, he secretly teaches one of the younger boys to read. He has one ally in Samarah, who, at great cost to herself, pledges to help him. Their "keepers" are truly terrifying, and the punishments are cruel, but Ty's mother is too caught up in the culture of the place to believe his claims of abuse. If he's going to escape, he realizes, he'll have to do it without her.

This reissued novel is gripping, complex, and enthralling.

Reviews:

A spellbinding, action-packed cautionary tale.” – Kirkus Reviews

This well-told survival story is frightening in its examination of cults and communes. An entirely realistic plot peopled by distinctive, believable characters that will be long remembered.– School Library Journal

A Good Courage Cover

A Good Courage sample pages:

Secret of the Seventh Gate

Author: Spire, Hazel

Subjects: History; Expatriots; Iranian Revolution; Cross-Cultural Understanding

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Order code: 5418

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 5418S

Secret of the Seventh Gate Cover

'Fast paced...high adventure...keeps readers' attention to the very last word. A remarkable adventure book...we highly recommend it.' – The Children's Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review

Originally from Texas, Jandy Graham is in eighth grade in Iran in 1979, where she has lived for three years while her father works on a dam. Her best friend is Maryam, an Iranian classmate. Their happy excitement about the school play turns to fear when Maryam’s practice tape of her dance music turns out to be an Ayatollah Khomeini speech against the Shah of Iran. Suddenly the girls are swept up into the changing atmosphere of Iran: Maryam’s mother begins wearing traditional women’s clothing, anti-West protests mount, people begin carrying posters of Khomeini in parades, American expatriots become targets and are warned to “go home,” the Shah’s statue is pulled down, and finally the Shah is deposed by militants.

Mr. Graham is ordered to pack his family for home, but his passport is missing, and a note on his desk warns that he is to be tried as a spy. The search for the missing passport causes the family to miss the last bus to the airport in Abadan. A true friend, Maryam’s father attempts to drive the Grahams to the airport as bullets whiz around them. His tire is shot out, and Maryam’s uncle Gholam offers to help. He drives fast and furiously, all the while cursing foreigners and the Shah and giving the Grahams some insight into a militant’s viewpoint of the Shah’s regime, including torture and the SAVAC, the Shah’s secret police.

Finally at the airport, the Grahams must pay an exorbitant airport tax to be allowed to race to their plane. A suitcase is dropped and instantly is grabbed by a mob of demonstrators. After pushing and pulling to get on board, Jandy has a chance to open the book Maryam gave her that is marked with a Persian proverb: “The best thing you can bring back from your travels is yourself unharmed.” The family will be back safely in Texas in time for Christmas with Grandma.

Intrigue is woven throughout the story, as is the theme of two families finding friendship and a cross-cultural understanding.

Author Hazel Spire met her Texan husband in Iran. She has won literary awards on both sides of the Atlantic. She lives in Dallas, Texas. 

'Fast paced...high adventure...keeps readers' attention to the very last word. A remarkable adventure book...we highly recommend it.' – The Children's Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review

Originally from Texas, Jandy Graham is in eighth grade in Iran in 1979, where she has lived for three years while her father works on a dam. Her best friend is Maryam, an Iranian classmate. Their happy excitement about the school play turns to fear when Maryam’s practice tape of her dance music turns out to be an Ayatollah Khomeini speech against the Shah of Iran. Suddenly the girls are swept up into the changing atmosphere of Iran: Maryam’s mother begins wearing traditional women’s clothing, anti-West protests mount, people begin carrying posters of Khomeini in parades, American expatriots become targets and are warned to “go home,” the Shah’s statue is pulled down, and finally the Shah is deposed by militants.

Mr. Graham is ordered to pack his family for home, but his passport is missing, and a note on his desk warns that he is to be tried as a spy. The search for the missing passport causes the family to miss the last bus to the airport in Abadan. A true friend, Maryam’s father attempts to drive the Grahams to the airport as bullets whiz around them. His tire is shot out, and Maryam’s uncle Gholam offers to help. He drives fast and furiously, all the while cursing foreigners and the Shah and giving the Grahams some insight into a militant’s viewpoint of the Shah’s regime, including torture and the SAVAC, the Shah’s secret police. 

Finally at the airport, the Grahams must pay an exorbitant airport tax to be allowed to race to their plane. A suitcase is dropped and instantly is grabbed by a mob of demonstrators. After pushing and pulling to get on board, Jandy has a chance to open the book Maryam gave her that is marked with a Persian proverb: “The best thing you can bring back from your travels is yourself unharmed.” The family will be back safely in Texas in time for Christmas with Grandma.

Intrigue is woven throughout the story, as is the theme of two families finding friendship and a cross-cultural understanding.

Author Hazel Spire met her Texan husband in Iran. She has won literary awards on both sides of the Atlantic. She lives in Dallas, Texas. 

Secret of the Seventh Gate Cover

The Journal of Jenny September

Author: Isaacsen-Bright

Subjects: School Experience; Family Relationships; Homelessness; Social Relationships

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8

ISBN: 978-0-89824-441-0

Order code: 4410

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 4410S

The Journal of Jenny September Cover

Jenny’s teacher has required her students to do a year-long project. Twelve-year-old Jenny decides to keep a daily journal, but her teacher never expected it to be the truly extraordinary document that Jenny turns in at the end of the school year.

At the beginning of the year, her mother leaves, and Jenny and her father are soon homeless. Father and daughter go through several stages of homelessness. They first live in a VW “Bug,” spending the nights in parking lots until the police catch them. They next call a self-storage unit home until they are found out. A bus becomes home, too. At each stage, Jenny writes of the difficulties and problems involved in being homeless.

Through it all, Jenny manages to keep up with her schoolwork. One of the warm safe havens for her is the library, where she can do her homework. Jenny makes friends at the beginning of the schoolyear with a girl from a prosperous home. This is a friendship that dies as poverty and homelessness overtake Jenny. She is, however, befriended by a black male classmate who is homeless and parentless and who knows that Jenny is homeless, even though she is trying to hide it from her classmates. He introduces Jenny and her father to life under a bridge amid the flowerbeds of a park and a babbling brook.

In a humiliating incident, Jenny's former friends discover that Jenny is homeless. The yogurt shop in the shopping mall looks out over the park, and they see Jenny under the bridge.

Jenny and her father fight their way through problems during the course of the year. He manages to find work and to consolidate and pay bills. The novel ends on a note of promise. Readers will gain a great deal of compassion for the homeless through this novel.

Jenny’s teacher has required her students to do a year-long project. Twelve-year-old Jenny decides to keep a daily journal, but her teacher never expected it to be the truly extraordinary document that Jenny turns in at the end of the school year. 

At the beginning of the year, her mother leaves, and Jenny and her father are soon homeless. Father and daughter go through several stages of homelessness. They first live in a VW “Bug,” spending the nights in parking lots until the police catch them. They next call a self-storage unit home until they are found out. A bus becomes home, too. At each stage, Jenny writes of the difficulties and problems involved in being homeless.

Through it all, Jenny manages to keep up with her schoolwork. One of the warm safe havens for her is the library, where she can do her homework. Jenny makes friends at the beginning of the schoolyear with a girl from a prosperous home. This is a friendship that dies as poverty and homelessness overtake Jenny. She is, however, befriended by a black male classmate who is homeless and parentless and who knows that Jenny is homeless, even though she is trying to hide it from her classmates. He introduces Jenny and her father to life under a bridge amid the flowerbeds of a park and a babbling brook.

In a humiliating incident, Jenny's former friends discover that Jenny is homeless. The yogurt shop in the shopping mall looks out over the park, and they see Jenny under the bridge.

Jenny and her father fight their way through problems during the course of the year. He manages to find work and to consolidate and pay bills. The novel ends on a note of promise. Readers will gain a great deal of compassion for the homeless through this novel.

The Journal of Jenny September Cover

The Journal of Jenny September Sample Pages:

Belly Up

Author: Easley, MaryAnn

Subjects: Problem Solving; Sea Adventure; Sailing Ships

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8

Order code: 5515

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 5515S

Belly Up Cover

"...moves quickly and stays exciting. Recommended." – The Book Report

Hit by a whale off the coast of California, Grandpa's 55-foot fishing schooner sinks, taking Grandpa with it, leaving Rachel and Boo alone, fighting to stay alive in a free-floating life raft on an ocean filled with sharks. Their fortress against nature is an orange tent-like canopy atop three black inner tubes, with a rubberized floor thin enough to feel the water moving beneath it. The story is told from fourteen-year-old Rachel's point of view; through her eyes, we see the children struggle for survival, but we also witness memories of past events involving their grandfather. Those memories create a rich picture of the old man's personality, the reason for and details about the schooner's creation, and family relationships. In addition to the personal insights, there are the dangerous mini-adventures that lend depth to the novel: the use of a gun in "fishing" for salmon, the fishing fleet's paranoia about "hot spots," enforcing the rules of the sea and of fishing boats, and the danger of fishing in freighter lanes.

The novel is off to a quick start with the shipwreck and Rachel's and Boo's reluctant acceptance of their grandfather's death and the loss of the boat. Dealing with their own possible fate rapidly moves them from contemplation to action in order to survive. Their food soon exhausted and their water turned putrid, they manage to catch flying fish and eat them raw, use fish entrails for bait, and eat fish eyeballs for liquid. They wrestle a sea turtle on board but keep only her eggs and return her to the sea. They outride a thrashing lightening storm and suffer cold, wet nights sitting in fish slime and sea salt while listening for hissing leaks in the raft's floor. They patch the floor time and time again with 90% ingenuity and 10% materials. They sunburn and blister from the blazing sun of the day. Rachel gets food poisoning. Boo is the mainstay until rescue finally comes. Belly Up is a kids-against-the-elements page-turner!

MaryAnn Easley is a member of the National Writers Association, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, PEN (an association for writers), the California Teachers Association, and the National Education Association. An educator and a gifted writer, she paints a complete picture of fishing for salmon aboard a two-mast, gaff-rigged schooner and crafts a wonderful sea adventure in which brother and sister team together to problem solve getting food and water and keeping their survival raft afloat.

Her fishing lingo is accurate. Her imagery is stunning. And it is no wonder because MaryAnn Easley for seven seasons fished commercially for king salmon with the Pacific Northwest Fleet while aboard her own 55-foot sailing schooner.

"...moves quickly and stays exciting. Recommended." – The Book Report

Hit by a whale off the coast of California, Grandpa's 55-foot fishing schooner sinks, taking Grandpa with it, leaving Rachel and Boo alone, fighting to stay alive in a free-floating life raft on an ocean filled with sharks. Their fortress against nature is an orange tent-like canopy atop three black inner tubes, with a rubberized floor thin enough to feel the water moving beneath it. The story is told from fourteen-year-old Rachel's point of view; through her eyes, we see the children struggle for survival, but we also witness memories of past events involving their grandfather. Those memories create a rich picture of the old man's personality, the reason for and details about the schooner's creation, and family relationships. In addition to the personal insights, there are the dangerous mini-adventures that lend depth to the novel: the use of a gun in "fishing" for salmon, the fishing fleet's paranoia about "hot spots," enforcing the rules of the sea and of fishing boats, and the danger of fishing in freighter lanes.

The novel is off to a quick start with the shipwreck and Rachel's and Boo's reluctant acceptance of their grandfather's death and the loss of the boat. Dealing with their own possible fate rapidly moves them from contemplation to action in order to survive. Their food soon exhausted and their water turned putrid, they manage to catch flying fish and eat them raw, use fish entrails for bait, and eat fish eyeballs for liquid. They wrestle a sea turtle on board but keep only her eggs and return her to the sea. They outride a thrashing lightening storm and suffer cold, wet nights sitting in fish slime and sea salt while listening for hissing leaks in the raft's floor. They patch the floor time and time again with 90% ingenuity and 10% materials. They sunburn and blister from the blazing sun of the day. Rachel gets food poisoning. Boo is the mainstay until rescue finally comes. Belly Up is a kids-against-the-elements page-turner!

MaryAnn Easley is a member of the National Writers Association, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, PEN (an association for writers), the California Teachers Association, and the National Education Association. An educator and a gifted writer, she paints a complete picture of fishing for salmon aboard a two-mast, gaff-rigged schooner and crafts a wonderful sea adventure in which brother and sister team together to problem solve getting food and water and keeping their survival raft afloat.

Her fishing lingo is accurate. Her imagery is stunning. And it is no wonder because MaryAnn Easley for seven seasons fished commercially for king salmon with the Pacific Northwest Fleet while aboard her own 55-foot sailing schooner.

Belly Up Cover

The Weaver's Scar: For Our Rwanda

Author: Crawford, Brian

Subjects: History; Africa; Immigration; Genocide

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

ISBN: 978-089824-477-9

Order code: 4779

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 4779S

The Weaver's Scar: For Our Rwanda Cover

VOYA Magazine's Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers
Skipping Stones Honor Award

The Weaver's Scar is a profoundly moving, gripping, horrifyingly beautiful story of one boy's escape from the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide. It is the first young adult novel written in English for an American audience dealing directly with the 1994 genocide of the Tutsis by the Hutus, an event that resulted in the slaughter of nearly a million people. The novel is stunning in its eloquence, heartrending in its poignancy, and exquisite in its revelations, both of the characters' personal lives and of the history of a nation torn apart by ethnic divisions.

Faustin is a normal schoolboy who excels at running and soccer. But dark secrets of the past hang over his family, and his father disapproves of his friends and his soccer games. Things only start to make sense when the teachers at school begin to emphasize the division between the Tutsis and the Hutus—a division that even makes its way to the soccer field.

As the terrible events of the genocide unfold, Faustin experiences first-hand the horror of neighbor against neighbor. With his family slain, his only chance of survival lies in his running and his sheer courage to outwit the enemy. He does not have to do it alone, however; he discovers the value and courage of an unlikely friend. Their journey to safety unfolds in a compelling narrative that ends with both heartbreak and, later, inspiration.

The author writes: "At its core, The Weaver's Scar is not about the Rwandan genocide per se; rather, the events of 1994 serve as a backdrop to a strained relationship between two friends whose families forbid their friendship. It is about a boy who does not understand his own father and whose misunderstanding causes him to hurt his father's feelings beyond repair. It is about a father who dreams of bigger things for his son. And it is about how the scars of our past wound our present."

Because the story does unfold during the genocide, there are several chilling and horrific scenes that younger and more sensitive readers may find challenging. The lessons it imparts, however, not just about history but about personal relationships, integrity, fidelity, compassion, and humanity, make it essential reading.

As author Brian Crawford was researching and writing The Weaver’s Scar, he learned basic Kinyarwanda. The goal was to create an engaging story that would inform readers about some of the main aspects of the genocide, all the while planting a seed of compassion for characters who were caught up in that horror. Brian’s hope is that readers will be inspired to learn more and to act with empathy and kindness in their day-to-day interactions.

Reviews:

“In The Weaver’s Scar, readers will share in Faustin’s grief, anguish, and fear in this heart-breaking and well-written introduction to an area of the world rarely covered in middle school literature.” – VOYA Magazine

"The Weaver’s Scar is captivating, with a simple writing style that pulls readers in until the end. A powerful story of bravery, trust, and compassion, this book...gives an impactful and emotionally stirring experience of the tragic Rwandan genocide. The Weaver’s Scar offers readers a deeper understanding of humanity’s global connection and shared history, while providing strong support for a more peaceful, unified future." – Skipping Stones Award (see the full review)

"The Weaver’s Scar [offers] a perfect balance of social and historical context on one hand and a tale of two unlikely friends trying to escape a wave of violence they barely understand on the other. ...I think we sell young readers short when we assume they will not want to read this kind of book.... The Rwandan genocide belied the post-Holocaust statement of 'never again,' and keeping our young people ignorant is going to mean that more 'never agains' happen again." – Lyn Miller-Lachmann, author, from The Pirate Tree: Social Justice and Children's Literature

"Crawford paints a vivid picture of both the horrifying events that Faustin survives and his fortuitous rescue and later immigration to America.... The dramatic first-person narrative allows readers to experience the story through Faustin's eyes, encouraging empathy and understanding." – School Library Journal

"It can be difficult to find a book that deals with tough real-world issues in a way that's sensitive to the developmental needs of middle school students. The Weaver's Scar fills this need nicely and is a fantastic addition to any social studies or English curriculum. Solidly rooted in history, this earnest tale of survival and growth will resonate with teachers and students alike. After studying the history of Rwanda and colonialism as a class, reading this novel brought the abstract dates on a page to life with relatable characters and developmentally appropriate themes." – Matt Stenovec, middle school humanities teacher and faculty team leader, Soundview School, Lynnwood, WA

"The weaver is the persistent little bird that surmounts every reversal of fortune as it tries to create a nest to procreate, always returning to square one, no matter how many obstacles it faces. Faustin received a scar in a soccer match with the Hutu boy who later befriended him. Faustin’s father had a scar on his ankle from the 1959 revolution that crippled him. Like the weaver bird, father and son continued to press their love of life despite their injuries. Crawford’s lesson is that this little bird is a metaphor for how Rwanda should overcome its past and prosecute its future. [This book] is a good introduction to Rwanda and its troubled past by an author and teacher who knows the situation well. It is an excellent read." – Professor Augustine Brannigan, University of Calgary, author of Beyond the Banality of Evil

"This wonderful young adult novel is a great and lasting accomplishment. The story is suspenseful, the characters vivid, and it teaches a lot of things, not just about Rwanda but also about friendship, life, kindness. Over the years, I have read this and that about the Rwandan genocide, book chapters, articles in magazines and newspapers, but the story of the friendship of Deo and Faustin is to me one of the most memorable…. The tone is serious but not preachy; it is accessible but by no means unsophisticated; it shows reality, but because its characters are fully fleshed-out, contradictory human beings, even the most gruesome events become comprehensible to the degree that the characters themselves can understand and process them.... It is a great read.”  – Dr. Martin Kagel, A.G. Steer Professor and Head of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, University of Georgia

"From the first page I was fascinated by this harrowing tale of survival and friendship. Bringing to life the disturbing news of genocide in Rwanda, Crawford puts a human face on the people who lived through these terrible events. The tale of Faustin is gripping, captivating, and ultimately timeless. It is a story ripe for discussion on both a human and a literary level."  – Debbie Pearson, librarian, Seattle Country Day School

"It's hard to imagine a more compelling story. Faustin and Deo are forced into horrifying situations, but their journey, and the choices they make along the way, are true to the characters as well as the devastating history of the conflict. The Weaver's Scar should be in every school library. It will be an excellent addition to English and history curriculum."  – Sam Harris, M.Ed., MLIS, middle school librarian, Charles Wright Academy

VOYA Magazine's Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers
Skipping Stones Honor Award

The Weaver's Scar is a profoundly moving, gripping, horrifyingly beautiful story of one boy's escape from the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide. It is the first young adult novel written in English for an American audience dealing directly with the 1994 genocide of the Tutsis by the Hutus, an event that resulted in the slaughter of nearly a million people. The novel is stunning in its eloquence, heartrending in its poignancy, and exquisite in its revelations, both of the characters' personal lives and of the history of a nation torn apart by ethnic divisions.

Faustin is a normal schoolboy who excels at running and soccer. But dark secrets of the past hang over his family, and his father disapproves of his friends and his soccer games. Things only start to make sense when the teachers at school begin to emphasize the division between the Tutsis and the Hutus—a division that even makes its way to the soccer field.

As the terrible events of the genocide unfold, Faustin experiences first-hand the horror of neighbor against neighbor. With his family slain, his only chance of survival lies in his running and his sheer courage to outwit the enemy. He does not have to do it alone, however; he discovers the value and courage of an unlikely friend. Their journey to safety unfolds in a compelling narrative that ends with both heartbreak and, later, inspiration.

The author writes: "At its core, The Weaver's Scar is not about the Rwandan genocide per se; rather, the events of 1994 serve as a backdrop to a strained relationship between two friends whose families forbid their friendship. It is about a boy who does not understand his own father and whose misunderstanding causes him to hurt his father's feelings beyond repair. It is about a father who dreams of bigger things for his son. And it is about how the scars of our past wound our present."

Because the story does unfold during the genocide, there are several chilling and horrific scenes that younger and more sensitive readers may find challenging. The lessons it imparts, however, not just about history but about personal relationships, integrity, fidelity, compassion, and humanity, make it essential reading.

As author Brian Crawford was researching and writing The Weaver’s Scar, he learned basic Kinyarwanda. The goal was to create an engaging story that would inform readers about some of the main aspects of the genocide, all the while planting a seed of compassion for characters who were caught up in that horror. Brian’s hope is that readers will be inspired to learn more and to act with empathy and kindness in their day-to-day interactions.

Reviews:

“In The Weaver’s Scar, readers will share in Faustin’s grief, anguish, and fear in this heart-breaking and well-written introduction to an area of the world rarely covered in middle school literature.” – VOYA Magazine

"The Weaver’s Scar is captivating, with a simple writing style that pulls readers in until the end. A powerful story of bravery, trust, and compassion, this book...gives an impactful and emotionally stirring experience of the tragic Rwandan genocide. The Weaver’s Scar offers readers a deeper understanding of humanity’s global connection and shared history, while providing strong support for a more peaceful, unified future." – Skipping Stones Award (see the full review)

"The Weaver’s Scar [offers] a perfect balance of social and historical context on one hand and a tale of two unlikely friends trying to escape a wave of violence they barely understand on the other. ...I think we sell young readers short when we assume they will not want to read this kind of book.... The Rwandan genocide belied the post-Holocaust statement of 'never again,' and keeping our young people ignorant is going to mean that more 'never agains' happen again." – Lyn Miller-Lachmann, author, from The Pirate Tree: Social Justice and Children's Literature 

"Crawford paints a vivid picture of both the horrifying events that Faustin survives and his fortuitous rescue and later immigration to America.... The dramatic first-person narrative allows readers to experience the story through Faustin's eyes, encouraging empathy and understanding." – School Library Journal

"It can be difficult to find a book that deals with tough real-world issues in a way that's sensitive to the developmental needs of middle school students. The Weaver's Scar fills this need nicely and is a fantastic addition to any social studies or English curriculum. Solidly rooted in history, this earnest tale of survival and growth will resonate with teachers and students alike. After studying the history of Rwanda and colonialism as a class, reading this novel brought the abstract dates on a page to life with relatable characters and developmentally appropriate themes." – Matt Stenovec, middle school humanities teacher and faculty team leader, Soundview School, Lynnwood, WA

"The weaver is the persistent little bird that surmounts every reversal of fortune as it tries to create a nest to procreate, always returning to square one, no matter how many obstacles it faces. Faustin received a scar in a soccer match with the Hutu boy who later befriended him. Faustin’s father had a scar on his ankle from the 1959 revolution that crippled him. Like the weaver bird, father and son continued to press their love of life despite their injuries. Crawford’s lesson is that this little bird is a metaphor for how Rwanda should overcome its past and prosecute its future. [This book] is a good introduction to Rwanda and its troubled past by an author and teacher who knows the situation well. It is an excellent read." – Professor Augustine Brannigan, University of Calgary, author of Beyond the Banality of Evil

"This wonderful young adult novel is a great and lasting accomplishment. The story is suspenseful, the characters vivid, and it teaches a lot of things, not just about Rwanda but also about friendship, life, kindness. Over the years, I have read this and that about the Rwandan genocide, book chapters, articles in magazines and newspapers, but the story of the friendship of Deo and Faustin is to me one of the most memorable…. The tone is serious but not preachy; it is accessible but by no means unsophisticated; it shows reality, but because its characters are fully fleshed-out, contradictory human beings, even the most gruesome events become comprehensible to the degree that the characters themselves can understand and process them.... It is a great read.”  – Dr. Martin Kagel, A.G. Steer Professor and Head of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, University of Georgia

"From the first page I was fascinated by this harrowing tale of survival and friendship. Bringing to life the disturbing news of genocide in Rwanda, Crawford puts a human face on the people who lived through these terrible events. The tale of Faustin is gripping, captivating, and ultimately timeless. It is a story ripe for discussion on both a human and a literary level."  – Debbie Pearson, librarian, Seattle Country Day School

"It's hard to imagine a more compelling story. Faustin and Deo are forced into horrifying situations, but their journey, and the choices they make along the way, are true to the characters as well as the devastating history of the conflict. The Weaver's Scar should be in every school library. It will be an excellent addition to English and history curriculum."  – Sam Harris, M.Ed., MLIS, middle school librarian, Charles Wright Academy

The Weaver's Scar: For Our Rwanda Cover

The Weaver's Scar Sample Pages:

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