New Historical Fiction for Middle Grades


Wiviott, Meg. Paper Hearts. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015. 978-1-4814-3983-1. $17.99. 337p. Gr. 6-8.

First the Nazis mandated the yellow armbands, followed by enclosures, displaced persons, and unannounced seizures.  The shortages of food and medicine, jobs and money, devastated thousands upon thousands.  Ghettos replaced neighborhoods and multiple families crammed into single bedrooms, but that was tolerable compared to the transports.  So begins Fania and Zlatka’s story, told in alternating chapters and based on a true story, of persecution, loss, and camaraderie upon their arrival at Auschwitz.  When all hope seems lost, Zlatka contrives a plan.  Using Kanada, a black market of sorts, she and other girls barter and share bread rations to negotiate deals for the materials to make an origami birthday heart for Fania which the girls inscribe their intimate birthday wishes.  It is “. . . the story of a wondrous Heart made of paper but stronger than muscle forged in defiance in secret in friendship . . .”  that gave twenty young, courageous girls a reason to believe and keep living.

Written in poignant verse, Wiviott imparts an extraordinary story about survival, love, and friendship.  The paper heart is permanently displayed at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre.

Historical Fiction                        Christine Massey, JWP Middle School

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