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Children's Fiction Holocaust

Broken Strings

by (author) Eric Walters & Kathy Kacer

Publisher
PRH Canada Young Readers
Initial publish date
Sep 2019
Category
Holocaust, Music, Multigenerational
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9780735266247
    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price
    $21.99
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780735266261
    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price
    $12.99

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 10 to 14
  • Grade: 5 to 9

Description

A violin and a middle-school musical unleash a dark family secret in this moving story by an award-winning author duo. For fans of The Devil's Arithmetic and Hana's Suitcase.

It's 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers -- and the death of her beloved grandmother -- Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she's been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her "husband" is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school.
Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather's attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner -- strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.

About the authors

Eric Walters is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling novels for children and young adults. His novels have won numerous awards, including the Silver Birch, Blue Heron, Red Maple, Snow Willow, Ruth Schwartz, and Tiny Torgi, and have received honours from the Canadian Library Association Book Awards and UNESCO's international award for Literature in Service of Tolerance.

Eric lives in Mississauga with his wife, Anita, and three children, Christina, Nicholas, and Julia. When not writing or touring across the country speaking to school groups, Eric spends time playing or watching soccer and basketball, or playing the saxophone.

To find out more about Eric and his novels, or to arrange for him to speak at your school, visit his website at www.ericwalters.net.

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Eric Walters' profile page

 

Kathy Kacer est une auteure primée qui a écrit de nombreux livres sur l'holocauste pour les jeunes lecteurs, dont The Magician of Auschwitz, L'histoire d'Edith, Le journal de Sara et Les espions de la nuit. Elle s'estime honorée de contribuer à faire connaître l'histoire familiale de Jenny Kay Dupuis. Kathy vit avec sa famille à Toronto.

 

Kathy Kacer has won many awards for her writing, including the American Jewish Library Association Award. In 1999, she wrote the first book in Second Story's Holocaust Remembrance Series, The Secret of Gabi's Dresser. Since then, she's penned four other books in the series. Kacer now writes about the Holocaust for young readers and travels the country speaking about it. Kacer lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her family.

Kathy Kacer's profile page

Awards

  • Nominated, Red Maple Award
  • Short-listed, Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Nominated, Snow Willow Award
  • Winner, Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature
  • Short-listed, National Chapter IODE Violet Downey Award
  • Short-listed, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards

Excerpt: Broken Strings (by (author) Eric Walters & Kathy Kacer)

The bell sounded. People jumped to their feet and gathered their things.
“And don’t forget there’s a unit test on Friday!” Mr. Herman, our math teacher, called out over the noise.
A collective groan rose up from the class. Some people started to argue for a postponement till Monday to give them more time to study. On any other day I would have stuck around and joined in the argument. But not today. Today I needed to get out of the classroom as fast as I could. I had something more important to think about than a math test. I threw my books into my bag and joined the crowd funneling out of the room. I’d gone only a few steps when I almost bumped into Natasha, my best friend. She flashed me a big smile. Smiling was the last thing on my mind.
“Are you ready, Shirli?” Natasha asked.
“No!”
“We don’t have to go,” she said. “We could go to the mall, get a soda instead, maybe buy something.”
“And just not look at the cast list?” I asked.
“It’ll still be there tomorrow.”
“Tash, I’ve waited all week. Do you really think I can wait another day?”
She flashed that smile again. “Patience is a virtue.”
“This coming from you, the least patient person I know?” I asked.
“Okay, you’re right, and I was just joking. Let’s go and look.”
The hallway was packed, and it felt as if we were salmon fighting our way upstream. We were the largest junior high in New Jersey, but the building didn’t seem big enough to hold all 1,600 of us who called this place our home away from home. We squirmed and shuffled our way forward.
“You know you have nothing to worry about,” Natasha said.
“Thanks. Neither do you.”
“Oh, I’m not worried, Shirli. You know that.”
Natasha and I had been friends, and pretty much inseparable, since third grade—like two peas in a pod, or peanut butter and jam. But there was a big difference between us. Natasha had never been in a school show before. In fact, she had only tried out this time because I’d practically dragged her to the auditions. It really didn’t matter to her whether she got a part or not. The problem was that for me it mattered way too much.
“Ms. Ramsey really likes you,” she pointed out. I knew she was trying to reassure me.
“She likes everybody,” I said.
“It’s more than that. I think she sees herself when she looks at you.”
I laughed. “Like she’s looking in some sort of fun-house mirror?”
Ms. Ramsey was our drama teacher. She was in her early thirties but looked a lot younger. She was blond and slim and moved in this slinky, smooth way like someone who’d had years of dance training. We couldn’t have been more different in appearance, but I guess I had the same way of moving, thanks to my own dance classes.
“I didn’t mean the way you two look,” Natasha continued. “Ms. Ramsey is so beautiful.”
“Gee, thanks.”
“Come on, you know what I mean. You’re really pretty, but not like her. You look more like me!”
Well, true, we did look a lot alike, even though my family was eastern European and Jewish, and Natasha’s was Portuguese and Catholic. But where the heck was this going?
“I mean she sees you as being talented like her.”
“Thanks, Tash.” Now that was a compliment.

Editorial Reviews

One of Kirkus Reviews' Best Middle Grade Books of 2019
One of the Globe and Mail’s 100 Books that Shaped 2019
One of Quill And Quire’s Honorable Mentions for 2019 Books of the Year for Young People
One of CBC Books Best Canadian YA and Middle Grade Books of 2019

PRAISE FOR Broken Strings:

“Shirli's voice is true and strong as she narrates her own tale of rehearsals, her very ethnically diverse friendships, her deep distress as she witnesses Zayde's pain, and her joy as he reconnects with his music. A beautiful, painful, heartfelt reminder that the past is with us still.” --Kirkus Reviews, starred 
“Walters and Kacer pull of this impressive feat of complex storytelling and make it look easy . . . . [It is an] honest, open and unflinching [story] about some of the more dark and traumatic aspects of history.” --Quill & Quire, starred

Broken Strings does a great job of combining a wide variety of interests — history, musical theatre, music, romance, realistic fiction — in one well-paced story. It’s a book with heart, and one that will definitely be added to my school library collection.” --CM Magazine
“Middle grade readers will have learned a great deal about the inhumanity of Nazism, as well as about the scars left on their victims. They will also come away with a sense of the damaging effects of silence, and the hope that, at least sometimes, burdens can be shared.” --Jewish Book Council 
“A tale that teaches both history and compassion; a great choice for middle grade readers.” --School Library Journal
"The author has interwoven threads of the response to the terrorism of the Twin Towers, reaction to immigrants and racial prejudices, and teenage anxieties into the story, each with a gentle touch. There is much food for thought provided by this book.” --Resource Links

“[T]he authors successfully connect 9/11 and the Holocaust in terms of persecution, intolerance, and loss. At the same time, lighter scenes featuring junior high school lunchroom banter, rehearsal drama, and does-he-like-me uncertainty ensure that younger readers, who are perhaps less aware of the Holocaust, will stay engaged.” --Booklist

Other titles by Eric Walters

Other titles by Kathy Kacer