Thursday, December 24, 2015


When I think about Christmas, I think about people risking/giving all that they have. It makes sense then, to feature PAPER HEARTS, a novel-in-verse/CYBILS nominee on Christmas Day.

PAPER HEARTS is the story of Fania and Zlata, two Polish-Jewish teenagers, who have lost their families in the horror of the Holocaust. Zlatka's family comes from the town of Pruzany in Belarus. The family is chosen for transport to Auschwitz. Zlatka's father and brothers are separated from the women and children at the beginning of the transport, never to be seen again. Her mother and younger sibling are sent to the death chambers when they arrive at the camp. Zlatka is left with her younger sister, Necha, who quickly succumbs to illness.

Fania comes from Bialystok. In an attempt to save her life, the family tries to pass her off as Aryan, but she is quickly caught and eventually ends up at Auschwitz, with several other girls she has befriended on the journey. There, she learns that her entire family perished. After Necha dies, Fania and her group of friends draw Zlatka into their circle, and the girls help each other survive overcrowded conditions, starvation, backbreaking labor, and unbearable temperatures.


Knowing there 
were worse things
 than death
took away the fear.

was the 
best revenge.


For Fania's 20th birthday, Zlatka wants to do something special for her dear friend. Despite the fact that she will be killed if she is caught, she begs, barters, and steals materials and creates an origami birthday card. Fifteen girls risk their lives to sign the card and Fania carries the heart through the remainder of the war. The book is based on an actual event, and the heart can actually be seen in a museum in Montreal.

This is a meticulously researched, beautifully written, novel in verse. I can't wait to get back to school next week, so I can share it with my middle schoolers. I know they will love it.

For an interview with author Meg Wiviott, go here.

Irene Latham is hosting Poetry Friday this week.


Irene Latham said...

Carol, this is one of my favorite verse novels of 2015. So powerful! I loved how the book included the actual paper hearts, and that somehow, by grace and miracles, these girls were able to, for a moment, just be GIRLS in the midst of horror. So inspiring!

Julieanne said...

I haven't read this. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm in the midst of Margarita Engle's memoir in verse. If we could only learn a bit from history.

Author Amok said...

Beautiful. I can't wait to read this one. It seems like it would be a good companion to read alongside Debbie Levy's book, THE YEAR OF GOODBYES.

Carol said...

I haven't read THE YEAR OF GOODBYES. Adding it to my TBR list now.

jan godown annino said...

Appreciations for this post, especially at this time of year.

I will share this info on the author + PAPER HEARTS with our
Holocaust Education Resource Council. And despite a
basket of wanted books received as Christmas gifts, I intend
to make this one a first read of the New Year.