Award-Winning Books Fairy Tales, Romances, and Happy-CYBILS-After Poetry Poetry Friday Reading Themes

[Poetry Friday] Friendship and “Paper Hearts” In a Time Of War

poetry friday

Myra here.

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As we continue our CYBILS-themed January-February, I am glad to feature one of the CYBILS Finalists for 2015. Thank you to Liz Steinglass for hosting this week.


Paper Hearts: A Novel Based On True Events

Written byMeg Wiviott
Published byMargaret K. McElderry Books, 2015
Borrowed through inter-library loan. Book photos taken by me.

When I got this book via inter-library loan, I didn’t know that it was a novel-in-verse. I thought that it was a picturebook, and so this came as a pleasant surprise since I vowed to read more poetry and novels-in-verse this year.

The book is written in two voices: Zlatka and her friend Fania. Both girls are interned in Auschwitz and the reader gets to see the world through their eyes – from the time that they were with their family, to the time they were taken by German soldiers, their horrendous time at the concentration camp, and their eventual emancipation when the Allied forces came in and saved the day.

The friendship between the two girls, by its very nature, is already an act of defiance as they showed how hope can be nurtured amidst pain and torture. There were several parts that struck me as particularly well-written, and I took photos of the pages and edited them using an iPhone app. Here are a few of them which I wanted to share with you all for Poetry Friday today:






There is also a detailed Afterword that indicates which of the stories are true and which have been fictionalized by the poet’s piecing together of historical accounts through her extensive research of this mostly-true narrative.

Admittedly, I personally did not feel as moved as I think I should be by the story, having read so many Holocaust-themed stories – and the fact that I see the same thing happening again – only in a different context and with different rationales used. Despite this, I still feel that it would be a good primer to other young readers who may not feel as exhausted by war as I am.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

5 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Friendship and “Paper Hearts” In a Time Of War

  1. Myra, thank you for snapping photos of pages from Paper Hearts that resonated with you. They are haunting poems with brilliant visuals to give us a look into the horrors of war.


  2. Myra, thank you for sharing this heart-breaking and haunting book.


  3. This sounds like a powerful and haunting book, Myra. Yes, I am exhausted by war as well – never ending.


  4. maryleehahn

    “Exhausted by war” struck a note with me as well. What a sadness to come to this.

    That aside, I love the way you respond to a book by manipulating a photo of the text. I’m going to suggest that to my students.


  5. This sounds like an interesting.


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