Kobzar’s Children

Kobzar's Children
Kobzar’s Children

This unique anthology introduces new voices and a century of hidden stories.

The kobzars were the blind minstrels of Ukraine, who memorized the epic poems and stories of 100 generations. Traveling around the country, they stopped in towns and villages along the way, where they told their tales and were welcomed by all. Under Stalin’s regime, the kobzars were murdered. As the storytellers of Ukraine died, so too did their stories.

Kobzar’s Children is an anthology of short historical fiction, memoirs, and poems written about the Ukrainian immigrant experience. The stories span a century of history; and they contain stories of internment, homesteading, famine, displacement, concentration camps, and this new century’s Orange Revolution. Edited by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, Kobzar’s Children is more than a collection; it is a moving social document that honors the tradition of the kobzars and revives memories once deliberately forgotten.
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Aram’s Choice

From the New Beginnings series, comes Aram’s Choice, a story that follows the life of a boy who loses his family in the Armenian genocide in Turkey and is exiled in Greece. The book follows Aram while he travels to Canada with forty-seven other Armenian boys in what was Canada’s first international humanitarian effort.

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch first heard about the Armenian Genocide seventeen years ago while doing research for a magazine article about the first “Georgetown Boys” — a group of 47 Armenian orphans who were rescued by Canada in 1923 and were housed and schooled at a farm in Georgetown, Ontario.

After interviewing the son of a “Georgetown Boy,” Marsha was left with more questions than answers. For example, why were all of the rescued orphans male? Why were they all between the ages of eight and twelve? What happened to their parents? What happened to their sisters?

After years of research, Marsha was able to write Aram’s Choice. Based on true events, this book gives children a chance to learn about effects of genocide through one that the Turkish government has long denied ever happened.

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch is the author of many books for children, including Silver Threads and Enough as well as her YA novels, The Hunger and Nobody’s Child, which was nominated for the Red Maple Award, the Alberta Rocky Mountain Book Award, and the B.C. Stellar Award.

Muriel Wood has been illustrating books for children since 1964, including the Canadian classic, The Olden Days Coat written by Margaret Laurence. Other books that she has illustrated include Old Bird, and the first two titles from the New Beginnings series, Lizzie’s Storm and Scared Sarah.
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Prisoners in the Promised Land

The heart-wrenching story of one girl’s experience at a Ukrainian internment camp in Quebec during World War I.

Anya’s family emigrates from Ukraine hoping for a fresh start and a new life in Canada. Soon after they cram into a tiny apartment in Montreal, WWI is declared. Because their district of Ukraine was annexed by Austria — now at war with the Commonwealth — many Ukrainians in Canada are declared “enemy aliens” and sent to internment camps. Anya and her family are shipped off to the Spirit Lake Internment Camp, in the remote wilderness of northern Quebec. Though conditions are brutal, at least Anya is at a camp that houses entire families together, and even in this barbed-wire world, she is able to make new friends and bring some happiness to the people around her.

Author Marsha Skrypuch, whose own grandfather was interned during WWI at  Jasper Internment Camp in Alberta, travelled to Spirit Lake during her research for the book. “When we got to the cemetery, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Imagine seeing a series of crosses, all grown over with brush and abandoned, and knowing that the real person you based a character on had a little sister buried there? That real little girl was Mary Manko. She was only six years old when she and her family were taken from their Montreal home and set to Spirit Lake Internment Camp. Her two-year old sister Carolka died at the camp. Mary Manko is in her nineties now and is the last known survivor of the Ukrainian internment operations.” explains Skrypuch.
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Hope’s War

Kataryna Balyk, a gifted fine arts student, is hoping to have a fresh start at Cawthra School for the Arts, after a less-than-successful year at the neighbouring Catholic high school.

But her hopes for a peaceful grade ten are shattered when she comes home from one of her first days at Cawthra and finds the RCMP interrogating her grandfather Danylo Feschuk. Kat learns that Danylo is accused of being a policeman for the Nazis in World War II Ukraine, and what’s worse, he is suspected of having participated in atrocities against civilians.

When the story is exposed in the local newspaper, Kat and her family become the centre of a media storm. Her grades in school and her relationships with friends suffer. Her only support comes from her family and Ian, a classmate with whom she discovers she has more in common than just artistic promise.
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The Hunger

hungerFifteen-year-old Paula’s perfectionism drives every facet of her life, from her marks in Grade 10 to the pursuit of a “perfect body.” A history project brings her face to face with her grandmother’s early life and, as she delves deeper, she is disturbed to find eerie parallels between her own struggles and what she learns of the past.

As Paula slowly destroys the very body she’s trying to perfect, her spirit is torn between settling for her imperfect life or entering the shadowy mystery of her grandmother’s Armenian past. The shimmering Euphrates River beckons her, but, as she soon discovers, there are many things worse than imperfection.
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Nobody’s Child

nobodyOrphaned by the Adana massacre in 1909, Mariam and her siblings, together with their friend Kevork and his aunt, travel home to Marash hoping to find their remaining family still alive. Six years later, when the teens face deportation from Turkey, they are torn apart despite their best efforts to stay together. One thing sustains them throughout their horrifying ordeals — the hope that they might one day be reunited.

A sequel to the highly successful The Hunger, Nobody’s Child is a stirring and engaging story set during the Armenian Genocide, one of the twentieth century’s most significant events.
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Dance of the Banished

Based on true events, a compelling story of love and hope published on the 100th anniversary of World War I. .

DanceOfTheBanished_HR_RGB1Ali and his fiancée Zeynep dream about leaving their home in Anatolia and building a new life together in Canada. But their homeland is controlled by the Turkish government, which is on the brink of war with Britain and Russia. And although Ali finds passage to Canada to work, he is forced to leave Zeynep behind until he can earn enough to bring her out to join him.

When the First World War breaks out and Canada joins Britain, Ali is declared an enemy alien. Unable to convince his captors that he is a refugee from an oppressive regime, he is thrown in an internment camp where he must count himself lucky to have a roof over his head and food to eat.

Meanwhile, Zeynep is a horrified witness to the suffering of her Christian Armenian neighbours under the Young Turk revolutionary forces. Caught in a country that is destroying its own people, she is determined to save a precious few. But if her plan succeeds, will Zeynep still find a way to cross the ocean to search out Ali? And if she does, will he still be waiting for her?
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Stolen Child

They call her the “Hitler Girl” . . .

Stolen from her family by the Nazis, Nadia is a young girl who tries to make sense of her confusing memories and haunting dreams. Bit by bit she starts to uncover the truth — that the German family she grew up with, the woman who calls herself Nadia’s mother, are not who they say they are. Beyond her privileged German childhood, Nadia unearths memories of a woman singing her a lullaby, while the taste of gingersnap cookies brings her back to a strangely familiar, yet unknown, past. Piece by piece, Nadia comes to realize who her real family was. But where are they now? What became of them? And what is her real name?

This story of a Lebensborn girl — a child kidnapped for her “Aryan looks” by the Nazis in their frenzy to build a master race — reveals one child’s fierce determination to uncover her past against incredible odds.
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Making Bombs for Hitler

In this companion book to the award-winning Stolen Child, a young girl is forced into slave labour in a munitions factory in Nazi Germany. In Stolen Child, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch introduced readers to Larissa, a victim of Hitler’s largely unknown Lebensborn program. In this companion novel, readers will learn the fate of Lida, her sister, who was also kidnapped by the Germans and forced into slave labour — an Ostarbeiter.

In addition to her other tasks, Lida’s small hands make her the perfect candidate to handle delicate munitions work, so she is sent to a factory that makes bombs. The gruelling work and conditions leave her severely malnourished and emotionally traumatized, but overriding all of this is her concern and determination to find out what happened to her vulnerable younger sister.

With rumours of the Allies turning the tide in the war, Lida and her friends conspire to sabotage the bombs to help block the Nazis’ war effort. When her work camp is finally liberated, she is able to begin her search to learn the fate of her sister.
In this exceptional novel Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch delivers a powerful story of hope and courage in the face of incredible odds.
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