monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

Remember This: The Fascinating World of Memory

remember this

Uncover the science of memory and how important it is to our daily lives.

We all make memories, and memories make us who we are. Remember This explores the science of memory, how and why we remember what we do and what happens when we start forgetting. From working memory to flashbulb memory, young readers are introduced to the field of neuroscience. It also looks at the role memory plays in our daily lives and collective history, and how major global events get imprinted in our minds.

You will also find out how memory can work for you. Have you ever met Roy G. Biv? (He helps you remember the colors of the spectrum.) How come you can't forget the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? (Because it's set to music.) Why don't elephants ever forget? (They've got a great sense of smell.) Discover more tips and tricks to train your brain to remember. Young or old, let's start making memories.

Read more: Remember This: The Fascinating World of Memory

Open Science: Knowledge for Everyone

brass charm

Science is for everyone, right?

Unfortunately, that's not always true. Discovery, research and innovation are often top secret, and big businesses charge high prices for that information. The field of open science is trying to change that. It's all about sharing knowledge. Teams of scientists around the world are working together to improve and speed up scientific research and share their results so that everyone benefits.

Open Science: Knowledge for Everyone examines the history of scientific research and how ideas and information are shared and why. It also looks at innovations made using open science, such as treatments for diseases and vaccines to protect against viruses like COVID-19, discoveries that were only possible thanks to the sharing of information. Discover how regular people, including kids, can be citizen scientists and what we all can do to share science and make the world a better place.


Read more: Open Science: Knowledge for Everyone

The Brass Charm

brass charm

A young girl’s grandmother gives her a brass charm, and passes along a story of hope and kindness during an unimaginable time.

Tali is staying at her Oma’s apartment after a storm demolishes their house. She is upset at losing everything. “People have survived worse,” says her mother ― Oma survived World War II, and never speaks of it. But that night, Oma shares her story of Holocaust survival, the brass monkey charm that she was given in the camp, and a message of kindness and perseverance in the face of disaster.



"I can't think of a gentler way to introduce children to the Holocaust and Nazi concentration camps than a reading and discussion of The Brass Charm, though its story is far greater than those historic concepts." -- CanLit for LittleCanadians

"The Brass Charm certainly qualifies for serious consideration for a Sydney Taylor Book Award. The historical aspect of the story deals with the Holocaust in realistic but kid-appropriate ways and conveys a message of empathy. The contemporary aspect takes a child’s sadness seriously while also helping the child understand that things can be even worse. This lesson shows the reader how to overcome challenges and to help others do so as well." -- The Sydney Taylor Shmooze



Why Humans Work: How Jobs Shape Our Lives and Our World

why workWhat do you want to be when you grow up?

I bet you've been asked that question before. But have you ever thought about why humans work? There are almost 3.5 billion people working in the world today, and that number is growing. In Why Do We Work? author Monique Polak investigates the past, present and future of jobs, including how work has also been shaped by discrimination, privilege and child labor. Meet a variety of working professionals and explore why we have careers, vocations and professions. How is the way we work changing, and what will it look like in the future?

Read more: Why Humans Work: How Jobs Shape Our Lives and Our World

For The Record

princess angelica junior reporterPublisher: Owlkids, March, 2022

A middle-grade novel thoughtfully explores the realities of parents’ divorce.

Twelve-year-old Justine’s parents are recently divorced. She and her little sister, Bea, go back and forth between their parents’ homes in Montreal. Their mother, whose anxiety manifests as the need to control, believes that their father and beloved half-sister are a bad influence on Justine and Bea. So, she enlists Justine in collecting evidence that would lead to getting sole custody.

Read more: For The Record

Princess Angelica, Junior Reporter

princess angelica junior reporterPublisher: Orca, 2020

Angelica just can’t help herself! In this third book in the series, Angelica, aka Jelly, is confused for a junior reporter and decides to make the most of her mistaken identity to learn what it’s like to be a real journalist. Jelly and her bestie, Joon, are soon busy with problems at the new library, trouble in the lap lane at the local pool and a predicament in a rare-book room. With her keen observational abilities and a knack for creative solutions, Jelly soon has more than enough material for an article. But will she be able to keep up the ruse when a new friend starts nosing around?

Read more: Princess Angelica, Junior Reporter

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.

Read more: The Taste of Rain

Room For One More

Room For One MorePublisher: Kar-Ben, 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

"This novel for grades 3-7 comes from an experienced author who is respectful of the ideas and developing values of the young people for whom she is writing. Polak gives information about the horrors of Nazi Germany, especially its treatment of Jewish people, through the eyes of a teenage boy. The novel is evocative yet sensitive. The concept of accepting other religions and beliefs forms the foundation of the story but never becomes preachy" -- Historical Novel Society

"Montreal author Monique Polak has taken a refreshingly different slant on consequences of the Holocaust in ... Room for One More.... Rosetta is a most appealing character, marked with both garrulous charm and spontaneity" -- Winnipeg Free Press

"Although painful to read, the stories Isaac tells the family about life under Nazi occupation are muted enough to help children begin to comprehend the loss, displacement and sadness engendered by the war without being overwhelmed" -- Jewish Book Council

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.

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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