Friday, June 17, 2016

Paper Hearts

Paper Hearts
by Meg Wiviott
352 pages; ages 12 & up
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015

I'm reading as fast as I can to get to the bottom of my book basket. That's where I re-discovered this gem that was published in the fall.

Paper Hearts is a story about Zlatka and her best friend, Fania. It's about how Zlatka stole and bartered for paper and scissors so she could make a birthday card for her friend. It is a story about an act of defiance, a statement of hope, and a crime punishable by death - because in Auschwitz, in 1944, making a birthday card for your friend was illegal.

The tale is told in verse, a style of storytelling I am coming to appreciate, as the language gets to the point and leaves room for imagination to fill in the spaces. Here is part of a scene set in a prison:

Seven of us
Jammed in a cell
Big enough for one.
A girl with blonde braids
And a gold cross
Got down on her knees,
Crossed herself,
And swore to God
She was not a Jew.
No one listened.
Not even God.
 What I like love about this book: the abundance of awesome back matter! There is a picture of Fania's paper heart (which is on display at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre). There is a glossary, so you can look up Hebrew words, German words, and camp slang. There is a bibliography, should you want to explore more. And there's a wonderful section about the true story that Paper Hearts is based on, and what changes the author made for artistic reasons.

Review copy from the publisher.


  1. Thanks for telling me about this. It sounds wonderful. I will be looking for it.

    1. Thanks for dropping by Rosi. This is a powerful book to read.