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Young Adult Fiction Prejudice & Racism


by (author) David A. Poulsen

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2015
Prejudice & Racism, General, Values & Virtues
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2015
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2015
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2008
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 12 to 15
  • Grade: 9 to 12
  • Reading age: 12 to 15


#1 Calgary Herald Bestseller
Just when Andy starts to feel like he finally belongs, can he stand up to the person he trusted the most?

Andy Crockett doesn’t fit in at his new school — not with the goths, not with the jocks, and certainly not with the brains. Not even, really, with The Six, a group of misfits who hang out with each other mostly because they can’t stand hanging out with anyone else.

But maybe Andy’s luck is changing … and all because he is in Mr. Reztlaff’s grade ten social class — Mr. Retzlaff, the coolest teacher; in fact, the coolest thing about Parkerville Comprehensive. Social is awesome from day one. It’s the class that looks at World War II, Hitler, and the Holocaust. It’s the class Andy wants to ace — and make Mr. Retzlaff proud.

But eventually Andy also begins to understand that acing the class might just have a greater cost than he’s willing to pay. And when it turns out that Mr. Retzlaff might not be so cool after all, Andy is facing the most difficult decision of his life.

About the author

David A. Poulsen has been a broadcaster, teacher, professional cowboy, football coach, stage and film actor and—most of all—writer. His writing career began in earnest when his story The Welcomin’ won the 1984 Alberta Culture Short Story Competition. Now the author of 27 books, many for middle readers and young adults, David spends 60 to 80 days a year in classrooms and libraries across Canada (and beyond) as a visiting author/presenter. The UBC Creative Writing alumnus and former Writer in Residence at the Saskatoon Public Library recently made his inaugural foray into the world of adult crime fiction with Serpents Rising, the best-selling first book in the Cullen and Cobb Mystery series. There are now four titles in the series and the fourth—None So Deadly—hit bookstores in the spring of 2019. The Man Called Teacher, coming in 2019, is his first adult western. David lives on a small ranch in Alberta’s foothills where he and his wife Barb raise and train running-bred quarter horses for barrel racing competitions.

David A. Poulsen's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Numbers is a cautionary tale about the importance of questioning authority and demonstrates how easy it is to be swayed by charisma over facts — lessons which need to be re-learned over and over again from one generation to the next.

AJL Review

A book about Holocaust denial . . . with a complex plot which will thoroughly engage teenage readers.

Jewish Book Council

In Andy’s accessible, matter-of-fact first-person narrative, Poulsen explores a topic not often covered in teen fiction.


Both as a nostalgic reminder of one's high school years and an inspiration to think thoroughly, independently, and compassionately, Numbers should be very close to number one on your reading list.

Poulsen did a good job with characterization, which was vital in order to explain how a Holocaust denier could come to hold such sway over his audience.

CM magazine

A worthwhile purchase for libraries looking to fill a niche.

School Library Journal

Numbers is a deeply moving, nuanced, and fascinating depiction of how confusion and vulnerability can sometimes cause damages that can never be fully repaired.

Quill & Quire

Very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both school and community library collections.

Midwest Review of Books

Librarian Reviews


Fifteen-year-old Andy Crockett has never been what anyone would call lucky. Always on the outside, he doesn’t seem to fit in at home, and is barely tolerated by a group of misfits called “The Six” at school. At the beginning of his Grade 10 year, it looks like his luck is about to change when he’s assigned the super-cool Mr. Retzlaff for Social. Social is cool from day one, covering topics such as WWII and the Holocaust, and encouraging the students to think and to question. But when Andy starts to realize that Mr. R’s version of history doesn’t match everyone else’s, he starts to question how far he is willing to go to belong.

David Poulsen is at his strongest when he tackles difficult issues for teens, and this book is no exception. While the plot centres on Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, there are a number of deeper issues at play in the novel as well. Mr. Retzlaff’s teaching is about looking at the world from different points of view, and not blindly accepting the popular view, which are crucial concepts for today’s students to understand. Also key to the story is Andy’s desperate desire to fit in, and that makes him particularly impressionable.

What especially makes the novel interesting is how the principles of individual thinking that Mr. Retzlaff teaches are so effective that – despite his eagerness to please his teacher – Andy comes to the realization that he can and must think for himself, and not blindly accept someone else’s point of view.

A thought-provoking ending will leave readers thinking about this book long beyond reading, offering a powerful message about the irreparable damage that can be caused when we don’t ask the important questions.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2009. Vol.32 No.2.


Andy wants to ace Mr. R.’s class. Covering World War II, Hitler and the Holocaust, he urges students to question what they see and hear. Andy then sees that Mr. R.’s version of history doesn’t match everyone else’s, and the cost of passing Mr. R.’s class may be more than he is willing to pay.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2009.

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