Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 14 to 18
- Grade: 9 to 12
In the town of Buczacz, Poland, eleven-year-old Maxwell plays in the ruins of old castles and enjoys a quiet life with his family until the summer of 1941, when the Nazis invade and destroy his childhood forever. Maxwell narrowly escapes deportation and certain death, and soon finds himself all alone in the frozen woods, hiding from roving groups of Nazis and Ukrainian collaborators. Lonely and in despair, afraid and starving, Maxwell must rely on the kindness of a farmer and on his own resourcefulness and imagination to survive. In the harrowing yet inspiring journey of Chaos to Canvas, Maxwell eloquently describes his transformation from a boy dependent on his family to a teenager fighting to survive and, ultimately, to a man who finds himself through art in a life beyond war.
About the author
Maxwell Smart was born in Buczacz, Poland, in 1930. After surviving the Holocaust on his own, seventeen-year-old Maxwell immigrated to Canada in 1948 through the War Orphans Project. Since his arrival in Canada, Maxwell has lived in Montreal, where he has become a successful painter, opening his own art gallery in 2006.