monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

coming spring 2020

The Taste of Rain

the taste of rainPublisher: Orca, 2019

It is 1945, and thirteen-year-old Gwen has been a prisoner at the Weihsien Internment Camp in northern China for nearly two and a half years. Gwen is one of 140 children who were enrolled at a boarding school in Chefoo when the Japanese Imperial Army invaded China.

 Life in the camp is difficult. There is not enough food or water, and even the children are forced to do hard labor. But Miss E., one of their teachers from Chefoo, has come up with an unusual scheme: she will follow the Girl Guide Code, treating Gwen and her friends as if they are part of a Girl Guide troop. Girl Guides promise not only to stay positive in the most challenging situations but also to do good turns, meaning they must be kind to others without any expectation of reward. Gwendolyn hopes that when she grows up, she will be as courageous and optimistic as Miss E.

But then Gwen learns that Miss E. is not as full of answers as she seems, and she realizes that in order to protect a friend, she will have to do something that could never be considered a good turn.

 

"So well-told and compelling.... The sort of novel that will engage and inform grown-up readers as well. Highly recommended" -- CM: Canadian Review of Materials

 "Highly readable.... Readers will encounter death and torture in learning about another aspect of the consequences of WWII, but will also learn of bravery and compassion and the power of keeping 'your chin up!'" -- SLC

"it's a compelling story that may be new to many readers" -- Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books Reviews

 

Room For One More

Room For One MorePublisher: Orca, 2019

For twelve-year-old Rosetta Wolfson, the war in Europe seems very far off from her home in Canada. Then Mr. Schwartzberg comes to tea and asks Rosetta's parents if they will take in a young war refugee. Isaac joins the family and becomes a ready-made brother to Rosetta and her two sisters.

Isaac's arrival brings change. Her best friend's handsome brother doesn't seem as attractive after he reveals himself as anti-Semitic, and Rosetta begins to suspect her friend may agree with him. As Rosetta and Isaac become friends and he shares his story with her, she helps him learn the fate of other family members and helps him shape a promising future in his new country.

 "As timely as historical fiction can be" -- Kirkus

"Polak's novel introduces us to an often-overlooked facet of the Holocaust: that Britain expelled German nationals .... shipping them to internment camps in Canada and Australia.... Secondary plots ... are also well-handled. A strong family story" -- Booklist

Read more: Room For One More

Princess Angelica, Part-time Lion Trainer

angelica part-time lion trainerPublisher: Orca, 2019

Angelica isn't a liar. She just loves making up stories. When she goes to sleepaway camp and is mistaken for a princess, she could easily clear up the misunderstanding...but pretending to be royalty is way more fun! When her best friend from home surprises her at camp, Angelica is forced to fess up. Luckily, she also has a talent for repairing things, and when disaster strikes on the girls' kayaking trip, Jelly has to repair more than just her newfound friendships.

Read more: Princess Angelica, Part-time Lion Trainer

I Am A Feminist: Claiming the F-Word in Turbulent Times

i am a feministPublisher: Orca, 2019

What is feminism? Why does it still matter? What exactly does intersectionality mean? In order to answer these (and many other) questions, I Am a Feminist first examines the history of feminism and then addresses the issues girls and women continue to face today. The book also looks at the ways in which people, especially young people, are working together to create a world where gender equality is a reality, not a dream. The author shares stories about the courageous individuals who have made a difference in the lives of women and girls worldwide. From suffragists to the #MeToo movement, I Am a Feminist encourages readers to stand up and speak out for equality and justice.

 

Read more: I Am A Feminist: Claiming the F-Word in Turbulent Times

Planet Grief

Planet GriefPublisher: Orca, 2018

What a crappy way to spend a weekend. The always-sarcastic Abby would rather be playing soccer, and the cagily quiet Christopher thinks a grief retreat is a waste of time.Neither of them wants to spend two days talking about their feelings. But despite their best efforts to stay aloof, Abby and Christopher are drawn into the lives of the other kids at the retreat. Maybe their stories will make them rethink how they are dealing with their own losses.

Read more: Planet Grief

Passover Family

passover familyPublisher: Orca, 2018

Teach babies and toddlers about this important Jewish festival by exploring what happens during the Passover seder with this delightful photographic board book.

Read more: Passover Family

Bullies Rule

bullies rulePublisher: Orca, 2017

Daniel Abel is surprised when, instead of being punished for "pantsing" another eighth-grader, he is invited to become an ambassador of Mountview High at the school's upcoming open house. What he doesn't realize is that he is part of a social experiment on bullying being conducted by the local university.

Read more: Bullies Rule

Leggings Revolt

leggings-revoltPublisher: Orca, 2016

Eric and his buddies have left behind their all boys school to attend high school with girls. Eager to find his place in this exciting new world, Eric joins the student life committee, unaware that he is expected to enforce the school’s strict dress code.

Read more: Leggings Revolt

Learning The Ropes

learning the ropesPublisher: Orca, 2015

Mandy dreams of a career in the circus, working as an aerialist who specializes in rope climbing. When she is accepted into the prestigious Montreal Circus College summer program, she feels that she is finally on her way to fulfilling her dreams.

Read more: Learning The Ropes

Hate Mail

hate mailPublisher: Orca, 2014

Jordie''s cousin Todd has moved back to Montreal and is attending Jordie''s high school. Todd has autism and requires an aide. Todd has not been welcomed in the school. He''s known as a freak, and even other parents seem to resent Todd''s special needs.

Read more: Hate Mail

Straight Punch

straight-punch1Publisher: Orca, 2014

Tessa McPhail has a bad habit—tagging—that lands her at New Directions, an alternative school in Montreal’s toughest neighborhood. The school is far from Tessa’s home and full of troubled kids. To make matters worse, half of every school day is devoted to boxing. The other students think boxing is cool. Not Tessa, who cannot handle violence of any kind. But when a neighbor starts a petition to have New Directions closed down, Tessa discovers something worth fighting for, both in and out of the ring.

Read more: Straight Punch

So Much It Hurts

somuchithurts-bigPublisher: Orca, 2013

Iris is sorry. Sorry that she no longer hangs out with her BFF. Sorry that she's not closer to her mother. But most of all, she's sorry she makes Mick angry.

If all the world's a stage, then Iris's life has become a violent drama, starring a man whose fists are at odds with the eloquence of his words.

Read more: So Much It Hurts