CHILDREN & YOUNG ADULT
Suspenseful Sci-Fi Thriller for Middle Grades by Award-winning Children's
Author Carol Matas
Fourteen-year-old Miranda has it all:
beauty, brains, talent, perfect health. Until the day her vision goes
blurry – the first symptom of a fatal disease. As she and her parents
fight to save her, she makes the shocking discovery that everything she
thought she knew about her life is a lie.
Suddenly Miranda is facing some troubling questions: What makes us human?
Is it our DNA, our upbringing or the choices we make? The answers will
force Miranda to deal with the biggest challenges of her life.
YA novel … taut story, which features girl-power heroines confronting bad
guys and the nature of the self. … Hitchcock-ian fun, full of deep
questions to ponder.”—
suspense-filled mystery that starts off with exploring Miranda’s middle
school life, then morphs into a science fiction bombshell!”— Erika
Lewis, TV producer/writer and author of Game Of Shadows, Tor Books
“Full of twists and turns that will leave you guessing and gasping until
the end!” — Eric Walters, award-winning author of over 100 books for
“A carefully crafted and suspenseful tale, as thought provoking, as it is
engaging.”— Perry Nodelman, children’s book author and recipient of
the 2015 International Brothers Grimm Award for research in children’s
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A Girl & her Dog
... Let the Magic Begin!
A charming tale
for young people 8 to 13 years old –
set in a fictional Brome Lake, Quebec
11-year-old Millie McTwitter defies her mother’s strict pet prohibition
and adopts P.J. le Pooch while her mother is away, something magical
begins to happen in Millie’s lonely life. Millie’s drawings in her
sketchbook—the last gift from her late father—start to animate on the
page, and new people enter her life in unexpected ways.
Millie’s mother, vexed by her daughter’s
disobedience, threatens to return P.J. to the shelter, refusing to make a
final decision about keeping him until his 60-day return guarantee is up.
Millie desperately tries to keep P.J. in line ... but dogs will be dogs.
"The story is
a good lesson in friendship. Millie wants a dog and will do anything to
achieve that goal. ... The story is simple and to the point. There is a
Victorian Dog Pageant and Games complete with Victorian costumes, a thief
who is uncovered by P.J., two cats named Oedipus and Pussicles who belong
to Cassandre and help when a bat moves into Millie’s kitchen. At first,
Marc does not want to have P.J. in his yard, but everything works out. The
sketchbook adds a bit of mystery as does the thief who steals from the
Victorian Dog Pageant and Games. ... Although the characters are female,
this book would be enjoyed by both girls and boy and would be an excellent
choice for school, public and personal libraries." – Deborah Mervold,
CM: Canadian Review of Materials, April 14, 2017, Copyright
© the Manitoba Library Association.
"Morri Mostow has
written a charming book for young readers about a girl and her dog. A
story about friendship and family, it is set lovingly in the beautifully
rendered Eastern Townships of Quebec. Its gentle tone will delight readers
of all ages." – Carol Matas, author of Who Am I?, a sci-fi
thriller for YA and middle grades, and Tucson Jo, a 2014 National Jewish
Books Awards Finalist
quick paced and gently laced with French words. Also, bits of magic appear
in just the right places. A charmer."
Beal, author of
The Art of Teaching Art to Children
charming ‘girl-meets-dog-and-the-fun-begins’ story set in a delightful
town in Quebec. Who wouldn't fall in love with Millie—with her compassion,
friendliness, and drive to create an idyllic world in her small town?”
– Elle Maxell, author of
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BOOK FOR CHILDREN 8 TO 12 YEARS OF AGE
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Lisa and her little brother Jon enjoy collecting stamps. But when their
father holds a contest to decide which child will get a new large stamp
album, Lisa has to solve a difficult problem.
This chapter book for ages 8 to 12 (grades 3 to 6) takes place around 1960
and portrays a Jewish family celebrating Sabbath and Passover. It also
includes details about the experiences of American soldiers during World
War II and the early days of the Civil Rights Movement.
The book contains a handy Glossary of the Hebrew words and
difficult terms used in the text, as well as a Discussion Guide to
help parents and teachers explore the issues
raised by this book with their children and students: sibling rivalry,
bullying, discrimination, and Jewish traditions.
PRAISE FOR THE PASSOVER SURPRISE
"A sweet period-piece that weaves the longing
for a coveted prize, sibling rivalry, and a firm foundation in Jewish
traditions and faith into an appealing and morally uplifting tale."—Yona
Zeldis McDonough, author of The Doll Shop Downstairs and The Cats in the
"A good look at a loving family dealing with the issues of fairness
and sexism."—Shutta Crum, author of Thomas and the Dragon Queen,
Dozens of Cousins, Spitting Image, and Thunder-Boomer!
"A nostalgic tale about a Passover
past that evokes strong feelings of family and tradition. A warm, inviting
read."—Tara Lazar, author of The Monstore, I Thought This Was a
Bear Book, and Little Red Gliding Hood
Passover Surprise puts
its stamp on unfair treatment
"The Passover Surprise is a delightful historical fiction written
by Dr. Janet Ruth Heller.
Children ages 8- to-12 will enjoy reading it and younger children will
benefit from having
it read to them with subsequent discussion. This six chapter, 48-page book
nostalgic illustrations by Ronald Kauffman that immediately transport the
reader to the
book’s 1960s setting. There is also a glossary and discussion guide at the
Set against a joyful Passover celebration shared with extended family,
Surprise emphasizes the importance of speaking up about unequal
it might occur. The book illustrates the strength of family ties based on
and links generations together with holiday celebration and lessons drawn
The Jewish Advocate, March 31, 2017
"Janet Ruth Heller’s
The Passover Surprise is a nicely illustrated chapbook for young
readers with clear print, great chapter titles, well-placed
black-and-white illustrations, and a pleasing lesson well-told. The
story’s set around 1960, when civil rights hit the schoolroom and the
news, fathers might have served in the Second World War, and girls were
still not supposed to like the same things as boys. It’s a deceptively
simple tale in which life isn’t fair, but love and trust, with a measure
of kind communication, might ease the pain. Readers will learn about sibling rivalry and parental mistakes, while
absorbing the joys of stamp collecting, Jewish Sabbath and Passover, and
family love. As Lisa learns of the world’s many faults, her own problems
fall into pleasing perspective, and her mother’s advice proves wise and
comforting. A great book to build good family relationships (complete with
neat discussion guide), and an intriguing window into the world, The
Passover Surprise is highly recommended."
author of Psalm Stories and other books
"In Janet Ruth Heller’s The Passover Surprise (illustrated by Ronald Kauffman; Fictive
Press, 48 pp. $11), Jewish traditions, stamp collecting, sibling rivalry
and familial affection are all part of the story of Lisa, who craves a
“big blue stamp album” as a gift for finding the afikoman. Readers will
root for Lisa and a happy holiday."
—Gloria Goldreich, "Stories for Children to
Celebrate and Commemorate,"
Hadassah Magazine, December 2016
"Passover is just
around the corner and author Janet Ruth Heller brings a timely story in The Passover Surprise. Calling on Heller’s own childhood
experiences, The Passover Surprise tells the tale of a girl named
Lisa as she competes with her brother Jon in a stamp collecting
competition. Lisa’s father deems her brother the winner of the competition
based partly on the ideas that stamp collecting is more of a boy’s hobby
than a girl’s. As Lisa prepares to talk to her father about her feelings,
she is also preparing for Passover. Set in the 1960s, the story touches
on many different topics such as sibling rivalry and the stereotyping of
girls all while weaving Jewish traditions and customs throughout. The Passover Surprise is well written. With short chapters
and only 35 pages in length, The Passover Surprise is a good
fit for upper elementary students with themes applicable to all kids,
regardless of their background. Discussion questions as well as a glossary
of Jewish terms is also included.
Sweeney, Baltimore's Child, April 11, 2016
"A lot of ground is
covered in this story for middle schoolers. It begins with a
pre-teenage girl, Lisa, competing with her younger brother, Jon, to win a
stamp album, and moves on to a discussion of World War II, the experiences
of African American soldiers, and the nascent American Civil Rights
Movement taking place as the story unfolds, circa 1960."
here for the full review by Donald H. Harrison, San Diego Jewish World
Passover Surprise is a middle grade chapter story that deals
sensitively with complex issues like fairness, sexist thinking, working
hard to sort out complex problems and issues within a family setting,
relying on strong religious and cultural values within the framework of
Judaism. Lisa is the heroine who is hurt by her father's decision to
award a coveted stamp book to her younger brother Jon, perhaps because he
is the younger son while she is the older daughter. Some wonderful pages
describe first how Lisa felt, and then how she evaluates her options and
strategies to attempt to explain her reaction to her father, whom she
loves. "The Passover Surprise" tackles many difficult issues of prejudice,
racism, misogyny, and fairness, even including bullying. All development
is influenced by the strong Jewish faith and values of Lisa and her
family. The story takes place in the 60's, and has a definite period
flavor to it, which is underlined by the quietly charming black and white
illustrations. The Passover Surprise is filled with wonder and
hope, even in times of dreadful hardship and disappointment."
Bookwatch, October 2015 (Midwest Book Review)
About author Janet Ruth Heller
grades, a new historical novel WITH JEWISH THEMES —
Carol Matas'S 45th book!
2014 NATIONAL JEWISH
BOOK AWARDS FINALIST
in the Children's and Young Adult Literature category
tale filled with both exciting action and deep moral quandaries, all
driven by the likeable young 'Tucson Jo.' " Chava Lansky, Jewish Book
A BEST BOOK FOR KIDS & TEENS
(The Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids & Teens
2015, Spring Edition)
2015 McNally Robinson Book for
Young People Awards Finalist
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
"This fast-paced story has
plenty of action.
The language is fitting for the historical era...Jo is a likable charaacter and her fearless attitude is inspiring...The women’s rights issue
delivers a strong message and would make for great discussions in the classroom." Louise Sidley,
is a tyrant; that’s what he is — a tyrant! And I will always be subject to
When her father decides to run for mayor of Tucson in 1882,
fourteen-year-old Josephine Fiedler is reluctant to support his bid. “I
could be sealing my fate, helping to elect someone who wants nothing more
than my docility.” With a mind of her own, Jo is in constant conflict with
her father and doesn’t know how to back down when she feels she is in the
right. “Without law, without order, there is no freedom,” states her
father, but Jo wants nothing less than the freedom he promised her when he
uprooted the family from “civilized” Boston to the Wild West of the
Territory of Arizona because of his health. When violence erupts during
the election campaign and her father’s opponent attacks him for being an
Israelite, Jo has to reconsider her position and even what it means to be
Inspired by Tucson’s first Jewish mayor, Tucson Jo is packed with action
and deeds of derring-do, shootouts and holdups, while dealing with serious
moral issues like right and wrong, law and order, and women’s rights.
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Praise for Tucson
INCANDESCENT AND AWARE STORYTELLING
Rich with historical details, this wonderful novel delivers a fast-paced
story sure to appeal to teens who love to transport themselves to a time
long ago in a faraway place. The characters are so perfectly drawn that
readers will find it easy to climb inside their skins. To their amazement,
they will probably discover that people haven't changed much in the last
hundred and thirty years.
Young people who are struggling to find their own places in the world and
wondering how to overcome issues they are having with their parents may
find much comfort and insight in Josephine's and Connie's methods of
dealing with their own family problems. The challenges of youth and the
wisdom of age are beautifully handled in this exciting story, which is
sure to become a favorite of many young readers. I hope it will find its
way beneath many Christmas trees and onto countless library shelves,
because it deserves to be applauded, savored, and enjoyed.
Elle Maxwell, author of
24-Carat Murder (A Mack Dearling Mystery)
The story behind the story
Carol Matas reveals the story behind Tucson Jo. She also discusses
the moral issues raised in her middle-grades historical novel, issues that
are just as relevant and important today. A fascinasting and wide-ranging interview with
Tucson Tales, a children's literature publication showcasing new
and established writers.
Carol Matas' 2015 blog tour
Get the inside scoop, the story behind the
story of Tucson Jo, with these fascinating interviews with Carol
Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb
Jewish Books for Kids with author/blogger Barbara Bietz
The Whole Megillah by author/historian Barbara Krasner
MEDITATION ON THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
Are you looking for a way to talk about death to your child or
grandchild? Are you grappling with the issue of your own mortality? When I Die, a meditation on death,
can give you a safe place to start the discussion.
Matas is an award-winning author of 43 books for children and young
adults. When I Die is sure to resonate with parents and children of all
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6" x 9"
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WHEN I DIE IN EPUB AND OTHER EBOOK FORMATS.
NOTE TO eREADERS: For
optimal e-viewing, set the text on your eReader small enough that you see
text above and below each photograph.
Carol Matas explains how she came to write When I Die
"The entire manuscript came to me all at
once while I was meditating. I have changed it a little but it is almost
exactly as I 'heard' it originally. I wasn’t thinking about anything in
particular, my mind was rather blank, so I can’t explain why I thought of
it or how it came to be. But I feel comforted by it in some strange way.
"The circle of life will go on with or
without me. Some people tend to think they are the centre of the universe
and all important. Others think they don’t matter at all and no one would
care if they lived or if they died. I tend to think that there is a
balance in almost everything. We are all the most important things in the
universe- after all, Jewish thought says that if you save one life you
have saved the world. And it is also true that the world will go on
without us and that is a good thing. Everything is important or nothing is
important. I believe everything is."