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Latest Releases

Sammy and the Headless Horseman by Rona Arato

Sammy and the Headless Horseman

Thanks to his Aunt Pearl, eleven-year-old Sammy is stuck in the Catskill Mountains for the summer with his awful cousin Joshua. While he doesn't relish the idea of getting to know his new stepmom, at least he'd have his gang to hang out with in New York if he got to stay there instead. But when Sammy realizes he was brought on to be hired help at the hotel, he makes the most of it and enjoys bunking with his teenage co-worker, Adam.

Trouble seems to follow Sammy as he becomes entangled in a series of mysterious occurrences, including a terrifying headless horseman who seems to be haunting the reclusive “Hermit” at the top of the neighbouring hill. Sammy and his new friends form a team called “The Ichabods” to crack the mystery.

Set in the early 1920s, after WWI

“…One of my favourite pick it up/put it down books is The Joys of Yiddish with its wry humour, self-deprecating stories, and wonderful cadences of language. Sammy and the Headless Horseman, the book, has some of the same flavour and charm, and, at the same time, Sammy, the character, is a real boy with courage and ambition who should appeal to a wide audience. It’s a good combination.”

Recommended.

— CM Magazine, Volume XXIII Number 4, September 30, 2016

The Ship to Nowhere by Rona Arato

The Ship to Nowhere

  • Rona Arato’s book The Ship to Nowhere, by SecondStory Press has been designated a Notable Book for Older Children in the 2017 Sydney Taylor Book Awards. It was the only Canadian book recognized this year.

Rachel Landesman is eleven years old when she, her mother and sister are crammed on board the Exodus, a dilapidated vessel smuggling 4500 Jewish refugees risking their lives to reach Palestine, their biblical homeland. Despite all they had suffered during the Holocaust, Jewish refugees are still not wanted in many countries. Even a Canadian immigration officer famously said at the time “None is too many” when asked how many refugees Canada would take in. Nonetheless, Rachel and the other refugees refuse to give up hope when war ships surround them. Their fight, and the worldwide attention it brought, influenced the UN to vote for the creation of the state of Israel. Made famous by the Paul Newman film “Exodus”, this is the first book for young people about the ship that helped make history.

“This book is an excellent starting point for discussions regarding the Holocaust, racism, and refugees; topics which are, sadly, still in the headlines today.

— Historical Novel Society

“The author has taken a difficult story and told it with sensitivity for middle grade readers. It is a ‘Holocaust Remembrance Book for Young Readers’ and will be a welcomed addition to any school’s library.”

— Patricia Tilton: Chidren’s Books Heal

“ A great story on its own or to add to the series, the book will be an asset to both school and synagogue libraries.”

— Chava Pinchuck, Association of Jewish Libraries

The Last Train by Rona Arato Rona with the sponsors of the Norma Fleck Award

Rona with the sponsors of the
Norma Fleck Award

The Last Train

  • Norma Fleck Award for
    Children’s Non-Fiction
  • Winner: Red Maple Award
  • Winner: Red Cedar Award
  • Winner: Rocky Mountain Award
  • Short listed: Diamond Willow Award
  • CCBC Best Books 2013

The Last Train is the harrowing true story of young brothers Paul and Oscar Arato and their mother, Lenke, surviving the Nazi occupation during the final years of World War II.

Living in the town of Karcag, Hungary, the Aratos feel insulated from the war — even as it rages all around them. Hungary is allied with Germany to protect its citizens from invasion, but in 1944 Hitler breaks his promise to keep the Nazis out of Hungary.

The Nazi occupation forces the family into situations of growing panic and fear: first, into a ghetto in their hometown; then to a labor camp in Austria; and, finally, to the deadly Bergen Belsen camp deep in the heart of Germany. Separated from their father, 6-year-old Paul and 11-year-old Oscar must care for their increasingly sick mother, all while trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy amid the horrors of the camp.

Liberation at Farsleben, Germany, April 13th, 1945

In the spring of 1945, the boys see British planes flying over the camp, which ignites a spark of hope that the war will soon end. But then they are forced onto a dark, stinking boxcar by the Nazi guards. After four days on the train, the boys are convinced they will be killed, but through a twist of fate, the train is discovered by a battalion of American soldiers marching through Germany.

The book concludes when Paul, now a grown man living in Canada, stumbles upon photographs on the internet of his train being liberated. After writing to the man who posted the pictures, Paul is presented with an opportunity to meet his rescuers — and fellow survivors — at a reunion in New York.

Click here for a description of Rona’s presentations about The Last Train.

Interviews with Rona:

The Last Train by Rona Arato

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

“Gr 4-6–Recent disasters are given complete explanations in these series offerings. In Fukushima, Arato does an admirable job explaining the complicated workings of a nuclear plant and what went wrong. The book will draw readers in right away, opening with an amazing photo of a boat stuck on top of a building. ..Maps, pictures, and side boxes complement each volume. The writing is as clear as it can be, given the complex subjects—Fukushima is especially challenging to understand. What hits home here are the incredibly powerful forces of nature, met with the equally powerful force of human resilience. These are solid works, ideal for reports and browsing.”

—Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI

Fiction

Ice Cream Town by Rona Arato

Ice Cream Town

  • CLA Children’s Book of the Year Award 2008 longlist
  • CCBC’s Best Books for Kids & Teens 2008
  • Children’s Crown Award 2009 Finalist

“... Ice Cream Town is a pleasurable, inspiring read with historical value.”

— Jewish Tribune

“Rona Arato’s first novel for young children is to be applauded.”

Recommended.

— CM Magazine

“Readers of historical fiction — perhaps especially those who recognize aspects of their own family history in Sammy’s experience — will appreciate the details of the book’s setting and its portrait of growing up where ‘everything is upside down.’ ”

— Booklist

“This is a richly detailed, solid piece of historical fiction that gives insight into the early-20th-century immigrant experience.”

— The School Library Journal

“Experienced readers of the Sydney Taylor books will get a grittier and more realistic side of immigrant life from child’s point of view.”

— Jewish Book World (US)

Mrs. Kaputnik’s Pool Hall and Matzo Ball Emporium by Rona Arato

Mrs. Kaputnik’s Pool Hall and Matzo Ball Emporium

  • ForeWord Reviews finalist in the 2010 Book of the Year Awards

Treat yourself to a visit to the wackiest restaurant ever! Mrs. Kaputnik’s Pool Hall and Matzo Ball Emporium is a colorful tale that blends history and fantasy with a journey of discovery, adventure, and fun.

“Author Rona Arato introduces dragons, gangsters and an assortment of other questionable characters to tell the story of one family’s challenging early 20th century emigration from a small Russian shtetl to the often frightening, confusing and overwhelming streets of New York.”

— City Winnipeg Jewish Review

“This is a funny, irreverent, look at life of immigrants at the turn of the century. Children will enjoy the crazy happenings.”

— Tristate Reviews

“Framed by real historical events, from the tragic to the inspiring, this story steers a fantastical and farcical course.”

— CM Magazine: Canadian Review of Materials

On a Canadian Day by Rona Arato

On a Canadian Day

What better way for a young reader to truly understand another time than to get an intimate look at the daily life of another child? In this groundbreaking book, Rona Arato’s arresting writing introduces nine engaging fictional characters, and through their stories situates young readers perfectly in nine pivotal moments in Canadian history.

On a Canadian Day is a wonderful assortment of pre-adolescent’s life experiences that are vividly described and illustrated in this authentically framed and researched collection.”

— Midwest Book Review: Children’s Bookwatch

“This anthology of historical short stories would make excellent read-aloud material for Social Studies lessons or an interesting book to put into the hands of young history buffs...The author skillfully weaves a wealth of historical information into each story, painting a detailed picture of daily life and the social context of the time.”

— Canadian Teacher

“The information about each time period will appeal to young readers as the stories give the sense of a real child living a much different life than that of most modern children. Recommended.”

— CM Magazine: Canadian Review of Materials

“The diversity and time span these stories cover paints an interesting portrait of Canadian history.”

— Resource Links

On a Medieval Day by Rona Arato

On a Medieval Day

Info from the publisher at Maple Tree Press

“The collection may pique readers’ interest in finding out more about some of this realms and eras.”

— Kirkus Reviews

“A gorgeous book to be savored, read aloud, and enjoyed repeatedly.”

— Quill & Quire

“The fast-paced stories make for entertaining reading…a wonderful attempt to expand the usual concept of the medieval world beyond Europe”

— School Library Journal

On an American Day by Rona Arato

On an American Day

“Arato takes nine powerful slices of American history—such as Valley Forge, the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Gold Rush, the founding of the Perkins School for the Blind and Berea College, Hull House, the Johnstown Flood—and wraps them in neat, emotive, unvarnished stories that feature a day in the life of a child caught up in the action. Overall, the stories are engaging and inspiring, from the tribulations that came upon Emancipation to the strange new world opened to Chinese workers recruited for the Transcontinental Railroad to the pure brilliance of a school for the blind.”

— Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2011

“Nine pivotal moments of 18th and 19th century American History told through the eyes and ears of children of the era. This large trim full-color paperback packs great stories of the American experience from all walks of life. History made real and a real turn-on to learning more stories of our country.”

— NAPA National Parenting Publication Awards

“The high impact spin author Arato adds to all of the stories is the real life adventure, drama, romance, and tragedy of ordinary young people living through these historical times.”

Highly Recommended

— CM Magazine

Non-Fiction

Courage and Compassion, Ten Canadians Who Made a Difference by Rona Arato

Courage and Compassion,
Ten Canadians Who Made a Difference

  • 2011 Golden Oak Winner
  • 2010 Silver Birch Finalist

“...it is well written; the author covers a whole lifetime in a few pages and conveys a good sense of the person and the obstacles that he or she faced. This will be a useful addition to all school libraries.”

— Canadian Children’s Book News,
     Summer 2009

“…compelling descriptions of the lives and works of these amazing people.”

— CM Magazine: Canadian Review of Materials

“This fascinating series of vignettes is lavishly endowed with archival and contemporary photos...this chronicle of our past will make readers of all ages proud to be Canadian.”

— North Bay Nugget

“...an easy and fascinating read and a great resource for classroom assignments.”

— Canadian Teacher Magazine

Design It! by Rona Arato

Design It!

  • Resource Links Best Books 2010

Info from the publisher at Tundra Books

Design It! makes for great reading and is a useful resource for those who are beginning to think about careers.

Design It! is a perfect introduction to the way the products we use each day, from toasters to telephones, came to be.”

— Quill & Quire

Working for Freedom, the Story of Josiah Henson by Rona Arato

Working for Freedom,
the Story of Josiah Henson

  • CCBC Best Books 2010

“Rona Arato’s writing is smooth and sure; the dialogue flows and the stories of Henson’s adventurous life keep the reader turning the pages.”

— Canadian Children’s Book News,
     Summer 2009

“The story sings along, page by page, replete with photos, drawings, archival documents and maps. It is impossible to stop reading this book... Arato has mined Henson’s autobiography for dialogue and included much of it here, allowing Henson to communicate to the modern reader in his own words.”

— Canadian Materials Magazine

World of Water by Rona Arato

Fossils and World of Water

“These books will be a welcome addition to a school or classroom library.”

Highly Recommended.

— CM Magazine

Fossils by Rona Arato
Protists by Rona Arato

Protists

“…Protists are well illustrated, thoughtfully designed, and written to inform and interest youth and adults alike.”

— CM Magazine