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by Meg Wiviott

Product Details

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years


A forbidden gift helps two teenage girls find hope, friendship, and the will to live in this “beautifully told true story about brave young women who refused to be victims and walked out of Auschwitz with their heads unbowed” (School Library Journal).

An act of defiance.
A statement of hope.
A crime punishable by death.

Making a birthday card in Auschwitz was all of those things. But that is what Zlatka did, in 1944, for her best friend, Fania. She stole and bartered for paper and scissors, secretly creating an origami heart. Then she passed it to every girl at the work tables to sign with their hopes and wishes for happiness, for love, and most of all—for freedom.

Fania knew what that heart meant, for herself and all the other girls. And she kept it hidden, through the bitter days in the camp and through the death marches. She kept it always.

This novel is based on the true story of Fania and Zlatka, the story of the bond that helped them both to hope for the best in the face of the worst. Their heart is one of the few objects created in Auschwitz, and can be seen today in the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA, October 2015 (Vol. 38, No. 4) - Valerie Burleigh
Wiviott, author of the award winning picture book, Benno And The Night Of Broken Glass, brings us a haunting, yet inspirational story about the Holocaust to which young adults will relate. Based on a true friendship, the story of Zlatka and Fania tells about their experiences during the dark days of World War II. It is a story of hope, defiance, and solidarity in the face of death and how Zlatka risked her life, as well as the lives of others, to celebrate Fania’s twentieth birthday by giving her a booklet of wishes. The origami paper heart booklet given to Fania resides in the Montreal Holocaust Museum today. Had the book ever been discovered in her possession, Fania and her friends would have been killed immediately; yet it gave her hope to live for months while still in the camp, during the grueling death march before liberation, and even after being freed. She kept the book in her possession for over forty years before donating it. Paper Hearts takes readers on the heartbreaking journey the girls lived by using alternating viewpoints in chapters and writing in poetic verse. Her descriptive word choices will help readers relate to what the girls survived as they were forced from their homes and all they knew to a concentration camp with harsh living conditions. In a time when people turned on each other in order to survive, this story shows how friendship saved lives. The decision to use poetic verse for this subject matter was intentional and creates the desired effect as the word placement on each page varies and emphasizes many things from emotional to physical. Wiviott also includes pages with the actual birthday wishes written to Fania by the girls at the camp as transcribed from the real booklet. A glossary is included with definitions, as well as a “What is true?” section at the end of the book. This is highly recommended for students who read about Anne Frank or other literature relating to the Holocaust and ask for more. It is also recommended for reluctant readers who want to know more about the Holocaust as the poetic verse form will appeal to them. Reviewer: Valerie Burleigh; Ages 11 to 18.

Related Subjects

  • ">Friendship->Teen fiction
  • ">Holocaust->Teen fiction
  • ">Jewish and Jewish American->Teen fiction
  • ">Strong girls->Teen fiction
  • ">Teen Novels-in-Verse

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