A Winter's Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik (Scholastic)
This has to be the best book I've read this year. It has adventure, emotional moments and tense moments. It is the sort of book you buy extra copies so you can give them to other people to read because you want them to be acquainted with such an excellent book. What's it about?
Twelve-year-old Adam lives with his family in Poland attending school and helping on the farm until the Russians invade their country. His family are transported to work in a labour camp in Russia. They are forced to work to buy meagre food supplies and survive in over-crowded unclean conditions. Not everyone makes it out alive. When the Germans declare war on the Russians they are freed - but where to? They are sent from one side of the country to another by train, ship and by foot. Will the family make it out together or does illness claim one or more of their lives ...
It is a coming of age story - Adam at first naive and angry about small things learns to overcome his issues with his father and take over the responsibility of looking after his mother and little sister while his father and older brother are away fighting. You'll cry, you'll stay up late to read-on, and you'll be grateful to read about a bit of Polish history you may not have known about.
Melinda Szymanik writes picture books, short stories, and junior fiction for several publishing houses. She won the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards for her book 'The Were Nana' in 2009. Other books include: Jack the Viking (Scholastic), The House that Went to Sea (Duck Creek), The Half Life of Ryan Davis (Pear Jam), Sally Bangle: Unexpected Detective (Tale-Spin).