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21 November 2012 @ 02:08 pm
The Next Big Thing (and a sneak peek at My Next Book)  
I have always been pretty jealous of debut writers' groups who get together and sing each other's praises and find solidarity in a communal marketing plan for their first books - and then continue to support each other as their careers build. I made my publishing debut in 1993, not quite before the internet (remember Genie, anyone?) - but, yeah. Not the same.

But now! The internet is my friend. And at the moment there's a great meme going around among authors' blogs called 'The Next Big Thing,' where everybody promotes everybody else. You Reveal All (or a bit, anyway!) about your next book, and then you tag five other authors (whose work you like, and whom you think might be The Next Big Thing) to Reveal All about their own WIP the following week.

Teresa Flavin tagged me. We met at a reception given by Teen Titles during the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August. I was delighted to meet her because she'd designed the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators British Isles (SCBWI BI) logo:

uk logo small

We originally requested it for our masthead for Words & Pictures, the SCBWI BI newsletter which was my baby and brainchild in 1996. Teresa, like me, is an American ex-pat living in Scotland. She's the illustrator of a number of picture books, but now has headed into YA territory - her second novel, The Crimson Shard, is just out from Candlewick Press in the US. Here's her website; and here’s her 'Next Big Thing' post.

And now, my own 'Next Big Thing' question time!

• 1) What is the working title of your next book?

It didn't have a title for a long time and everybody just called it 'Rose's book.' But the real title will probably be Rose Under Fire.

• 2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

The book is about a young American Air Transport Auxiliary pilot, Rose Justice, who is delivering planes and taxiing pilots for the RAF in the UK just after D-Day (summer 1944). For one reason and another she ends up 'uncertain of position' over enemy lines and is forced to land at a German airfield - she's then sent to the women's concentration camp at Ravensbrück.

I give this background before answering the question because the answer is, a book about Ravensbrück has been simmering in me for most of my life. Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place was my first introduction to World War II, when I was about eight. I had a Ravensbrück plot line going when I was 12. When I read Mary Ann Shaffer's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, the memory of what I knew about Ravensbrück rose to the surface and grabbed me by the throat.

Nabokov talks about how a short story can grow 'the wings and fangs of a novel.' I think it is fair to say that my early story (what might be called 'juvenilia') has 'grown wings.'

• 3) What genre does your book fall under?

'Historical Fiction.' Ptbbbb ptbbb ptbbbb :P

• 4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Ohhhh…. Who could play Rose?

Katharine Hepburn, maybe? Rose is supposed to look a little like Katharine Hepburn, a cross between Hepburn and Amelia Earhart, tall and freckled and wholesome, well-heeled but from a small town in Pennsylvania.

• 5) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

See question 2, above? 'Young American ATA pilot Rose Justice ends up in a concentration camp in Germany.' Hmm, I might have to work on that - it sounds dire. And Rose is very resilient and determined.

• 6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My awesome agent, Ginger Clark, has placed this book under contract with the same editors who published Code Name Verity, namely Stella Paskins at Egmont UK (with the Electric Monkey imprint), Catherine Onder at Disney Hyperion in the US, and Janice Weaver (filling in for Amy Black on maternity leave) at Doubleday in Canada.

• 7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Two years. One thing I haven't mentioned is that Rose is a budding poet - so the manuscript includes several of her poems. These actually stalled me quite a bit and were the hardest part of the book to write.

They were also wonderful to write, because they were such hard work. Rose is not as accomplished a poet as me, not as experienced a reader as me, and has a different writing style to mine anyway. So I had to make Rose's poems sound like Rose's poems, not E. Wein's, and this was a real challenge.

I actually wrote several of her Ravensbrück poems on site at Ravensbrück. I would go back in a minute just to be able to be that productive again.

• 8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Dudes. I am unique.

Haha. I am only half kidding. I don't know any other books about girl pilots in concentration camps. I don't know any other books, other than non-fiction, about a women's concentration camp. I confess that most of my concentration camp reading has been non-fiction, so I can't really compare Rose's book to other books within my 'genre.' It's probably more like Micheline Maurel's An Ordinary Camp than anything else ('An Ordinary Camp' is a title I really, really like - it means, 'not a death camp'), right down to the poetry she includes. I am pretty sure Rose's book is not like The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne or Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, but I have not read those, so I may be wrong. It is nothing like Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic, which I have read.

Remember I said the sort-of working title was 'Rose's book'? Not 'the Ravensbrück book,' but 'Rose's book.' Like everything I write, it is character driven. How this character, how Rose deals with the setting is what I'm interested in.

• 9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

It was partly because while I was researching Code Name Verity I discovered that about 20 per cent of the female Special Operations Executive agents sent into occupied France ended up in Ravensbrück. It was partly that the Shaffer book reawakened my interest in Ravensbrück. But if I had to name one person, I think it would have to be Wanda Półtawska. Her book, And I Am Afraid of My Dreams, chronicles her own imprisonment in Ravensbrück. She was subjected to horrific experimentation and eventually, she, along with her fellow experimental 'Rabbits,' staged a quiet revolt against the camp administration which I've attempted to recreate in fictional form.

Wanda Półtawska's Wikipedia page, translated from Polish)

Wanda Półtawska speaking in a report about Pope John Paul II


• 10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

EXPLOSIONS. Because, seriously, what thriller doesn't have explosions?

There are a couple of themes that weave throughout the text of Rose's book, and one of these is the flying bomb - otherwise known as buzz bomb, doodlebug, pilotless plane, or V-1 retaliation weapon. These were essentially the first 'guided missiles' and were launched at London throughout the summer of 1944. They figure significantly in the plot - first because they are a threat to Rose on the ground in England, later as a threat to her in the air over France, and finally because as a prisoner she finds herself put to work making flying bomb fuses.

So, the book has a lot of flying in it, too (and seriously, the miracle of flight ought to rock your world a little).


---------------------------------------------

There!

And now, in alphabetical order, here are five other writers you should check out, who are going to answer the same questions NEXT week. Check back and see what they have to say about The Next Big Thing.

Erin Bow (blog here) is the lyrical author of the young adult novel Plain Kate, which won the Canadian Children's Literature Award in 2011. Her eagerly awaited second YA novel, Sorrow's Knot, is due out any moment now, and she's got a truly tantalizing list of works-in-progress. Erin has also published collections of poetry for adults.

Jeanette Cheney (who is exactly 17 days younger than me) has an impressive list of short fiction to her name in various science fiction and fantasy publications - her persistence is about to pay off, with novels Of Blood and Brandy and The Seat of Magic to be published by Penguin Books in Autumn 2013 and Spring 2014. We met at Worldcon in Glasgow in 2005 and clicked on a writerly and emotional level. She has Airedales.

Tanita Davis and I met through Finding Wonderland: The Writing YA Blog, which Tanita writes in conjuction with two other bloggers, aquafortis and citysmartgirl. I'm pretty sure sdn (Viking and Firebirds editor Sharyn November) introduced us. When Tanita and I discovered we were both ex-pats living in Scotland (do you sense a theme?), we became friends, and remain a Mutual Admiration Society in terms of books. My favorite of Tanita's is still her Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book Mare's War, about the only black women's regiment to be stationed in Europe during World War II. Her most recent young adult book is Happy Families.

Sarah Hilary and I met online because I commented on an achingly lovely Rebecca fanfic she'd written. It turned out that we both started school in Wilmslow, Cheshire, within a couple of years of each other, and were both lifetime Alan Garner fans. Sarah is a virtuoso flash fiction and short story writer, hugely versatile and prolific, with a singing prose style which is quirky and gritty and brilliant all at the same time. She won the Sense Creative Award in 2010 and was the Most Read Author at Every Day Fiction during their inaugural year. I am pretty well convinced she has a runaway hit crime novel waiting in the wings.

Rosanne Rivers is a fellow SCBWI BI member and the author of the Young Adult romance/thriller After the Fear, which debuts in December 2012. She's also got a blog focused on topics of interest to writers and readers. We met via the SCBWI BI online discussion group where 'The Next Big Thing' has been doing the rounds like a game of tag!

If you want to click around and read what other writers' 'Next Big Thing' entries are NOW, check back to Teresa's blog - or do a google search and see what turns up! The nice thing about this meme is that you don't need to be tagged to start your own chain, so get to work, kids!

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And finally, I thot I'd stick these in for color. Um, pun intended. Taken yesterday about 3.30 pm. Can't possibly do this rainbow justice, as I couldn't fit the whole thing in the picture - two complete arches. Also, I am not good at adjusting the light on my camera. It was all MUCH MORE INTENSE in reality.

The first two pics were taken at the back of our house, and the last two in the front garden.

back of house rainbow 121120

back of house rainbow 2 121120

front garden rainbow 2 121120

front garden rainbow 121120

 
 
( 34 comments )
J. Kathleen Cheneyj_cheney on November 21st, 2012 02:22 pm (UTC)
Oh...writing poetry is SOOOO hard. I've writtn poems for a character before, and it -does- take forever!

I'm looking forward to this book, too ;o)
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E Weineegatland on November 21st, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
it took a certain amount of self-discipline I don't normally have. Usually I just wait for inspiration. Which means I produce about 3 poems in 10 years.
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Anderyn Gabrielanderyn on November 21st, 2012 02:53 pm (UTC)
A. Great news about another book. Is it bad of me to want it yesterday? :-) Your books are always a pleasure to read, and -- while I know this one will probably make my heart crack as much as Code Name Verity did -- I trust you to make it a journey worth it. May I ask if it is linked in any way to Verity? (I so want to see those characters again!)

B. Wonderful pictures of the rainbow. I envy you your picture taking abilities.
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E Weineegatland on November 21st, 2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
B. I swear to you that the success of those rainbow pictures is due entirely to the subject matter and a decent camera, and nothing to do with my picture taking abilities.

A. yes, there is a connection to Verity in the new book, and you do get to see a few familiar faces. The main character is new, though - and younger. My editors and I agreed that the CNV folks would be a bit too old for YA by the time this book ends in Dec. 1946.
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Anderyn Gabrielanderyn on November 21st, 2012 03:18 pm (UTC)
Well, Rose sounds like a perfectly wonderful heroine from what you've said, and I looked up Wanda Półtawska -- oh my God, this is going to be a scary scary book in a lot of ways! But I'm glad you're writing about it, because I am looking forward to giving these books (eventually) to my grand-daughter (she's only eight, so it will be a while).

I was just hoping to see bits of the others, to be assured that they are still ... alive ... and maybe even thriving.
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E Wein: maddie as WAAFeegatland on November 21st, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC)
Careless talk costs lives! XD

no, honestly, they are alive and thriving (mostly) and you will be assured.
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jill heatherjillheather on November 21st, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
Will us ex-colonies have to wait several months (or order from the UK as we did last time) for this new book, or are the publishers harmonising their schedules this time? (And, almost more importantly, will the Canadian version have US or UK spellings?)

I am so excited to see the new book. (And, hopefully one day, find your earlier books in print again. Or e-version.)
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E Weineegatland on November 21st, 2012 04:16 pm (UTC)
I know not the true answer to these questions, but my best guess is that there will be a closer harmonization. At the moment we're looking at autumn 2013.

The Canadian version seems to follow the US version for spellings!

e-books of my earlier books: positive work is being made on this one... watch this space (without holding your breath).

AND, you know you won an autographed copy of CNV in that giveaway a couple of weeks back, right? Because I am waiting to hear from you about where to send it! send me mail at ewein2412 [AT] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk
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jill heatherjillheather on November 21st, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
I wrote you a week ago. Did it not go through? How odd. I will resend. It is coming from this username at gmail, maybe it is spam-trapped?

Why would Canada not take Commonwealth spellings? I suppose we got lucky with Harry Potter.

I remain hopeful for your earlier books. I have clicked "tell the publisher I want this book on kindle" on Amazon, but if there's anything in particular that can be done to show interest I'd love to do so.


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E Weineegatland on November 21st, 2012 04:48 pm (UTC)
thanks, I got it this time! Don't know what happened earlier. Not sure how the publisher to publisher exchange works. The Canadian edition is almost identical to the US edition, so possibly it's because they wanted to put it out in hardback first and using the US version saved them having to redesign it - in the UK it went straight to paperback.

that's a total guess!
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Estara: pic#2810740estara on November 21st, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
You know, how about going the Book View Cafe route if they still take applicants? They seem to do a great job pooling their resources and your previous books would fit well in the sf/f/romance thing they have going. And it wouldn't all hang on your neck.
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E Weineegatland on November 21st, 2012 07:11 pm (UTC)
I am actually going a similar route (I think), and it won't all hang on my neck, and I'm sorry to be coy about it but you know (Careless talk costs lives etc). My agent is making the arrangements but she's in Fiji right now! I don't know what the timescale is, but it really will happen. Certainly within the year.
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Estara: pic#2810740estara on November 21st, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC)
OOOh book contract, too! Also for some reason I was afraid it would be Maddie in Ravensbrück so I'm satisfied to know that it's a different lady. Sufficient onto the day be the evil thereof... or what was the phrase again?
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E Weineegatland on November 21st, 2012 07:09 pm (UTC)
no, not Maddie. I confess that *was* the evil plan I started out with, and for many reasons I'm really glad I changed it. Using an original character allowed me a lot of creative freedom that I wouldn't have had otherwise, and Maddie, as you rightly suggest, does not need the baggage of being a concentration camp survivor.

She had a narrow escape purely due to her advanced age!
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(Anonymous) on November 21st, 2012 07:58 pm (UTC)
:) tanita says,
You are, as usual, leaps and bounds ahead of me in the "next big thing" department! Rose's book sounds FAB, though; cheers! And so I shall now scuttle about, trying to organize my thoughts... or, I could go chuck it all and finish making pies.

I think pies won... ☺

Happy holiday, despite its being a regular Thursday over there. Miss you all!
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E Weineegatland on November 21st, 2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
Re: :) tanita says,
and we you! no fear, pies are being baked here too. I do my best to make it an irregular thursday.
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deirdrejdeirdrej on November 21st, 2012 09:17 pm (UTC)
These are gorgeous! I've never seen anything like that rainbow reflected in the street.

Your photos are as beautiful as your writing :D
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E Weineegatland on November 21st, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC)
I really can't take credit for the photos. The scene was just incredible and the photos don't do it justice.

but I'll accept the compliment about my writing. :D thank you!
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Rosalee LuAnn: I knew I'd be in this story somewhererosaleeluann on November 22nd, 2012 06:50 am (UTC)
matagal pa bago mababasa namin.... sayang.
ROSE IS A GOOD NAME.

That is all I have to say right now.

Except that I want to read this book now. And you are awesome.

Now I'm done. For real.
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E Wein: maddie as WAAFeegatland on November 22nd, 2012 08:51 am (UTC)
Re: matagal pa bago mababasa namin.... sayang.
hee hee, I love your icon!

and thank you.
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Rosalee LuAnn: Bonnet.rosaleeluann on November 28th, 2012 06:24 am (UTC)
Re: matagal pa bago mababasa namin.... sayang.
yours is pretty nice as well. The artist must be like awesome or something...
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E Wein: maddie as WAAFeegatland on November 28th, 2012 09:31 am (UTC)
Re: matagal pa bago mababasa namin.... sayang.
she *is* awesome!
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Ink with a K: ameliatigertrapped on November 22nd, 2012 07:26 am (UTC)
Thank you for tagging me - and the lovely things you said about my writing. I can't wait for Rose Under Fire. And I love Katherine Hepburn. Will aim to do my blog soon(ish).
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E Wein: queenieeegatland on November 22nd, 2012 08:55 am (UTC)
you're so very welcome!

your Amelia icon is perfect as usual.
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jamesbowjamesbow on November 22nd, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
You tagged my wife Erin and her response is here (http://erinbow.com/blog/2012/11/the-next-big-thing.shtml). She tagged me, and my response is here (http://bowjamesbow.ca/2012/11/22/my-next-big-thi.shtml). Enjoy!
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E Weineegatland on November 25th, 2012 05:56 pm (UTC)
thank you! I have been lurking there!
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(Anonymous) on December 5th, 2012 10:14 pm (UTC)
tanita
I actually - finally - did it! (http://tanitasdavis.com/wp/?p=4129) Still collecting other participants, but thanks for the reminder that I should get on with things!!
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Ashley Hope Prezashleyhopeperez on December 20th, 2012 07:23 pm (UTC)
Sounds fabulous
Thoroughly enjoyed a peek at the next big thing you're writing. CANNOT WAIT to read it. And I loved that "Ptbbbb ptbbb ptbbbb" after historical fiction. Was that the sound of the genre label drowning? You know how I feel about it.

And, hey, my next big thing has an explosion, too, although it happens at a school and has nothing to do with WWII.
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E Weineegatland on December 27th, 2012 06:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Sounds fabulous
yeah, you caught my opinion on the freaking genre label. truthfully I am not a fan of labeling of ANY kind but that one is a particularly repulsive one.
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blog.sarahlaurence.comblog.sarahlaurence.com on January 15th, 2013 10:13 pm (UTC)
Elizabeth, Rose sounds wonderful! The history is fascinating. I was intrigued by your poetic venture with its struggle for authentic voice. That is hard enough to do in prose, let alone verse. I can't wait to read this book. As for this meme, Tanita was already on my to read list and I'll have to check out the others too.

My local indie bookstore has CNV in stock since I recommended it. They will be shelfing it in both the children's and the adult fiction sections. Today I bought Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, about a teenaged girl in a Soviet prison camp in 1941. It might share some common themes with your next book. I think Beth Kephart recommended it to me.

Thanks for pointing me to this post. I'll be adding your blog to my blogroll.
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E Wein: i disconcert myselfeegatland on January 15th, 2013 11:27 pm (UTC)
Authenticity is something I have really, really struggled with in writing this book - what gives me the right to tell this story? I've felt this much more in writing this than in writing other books. Because, essentially, I'm creating a fictional survivor, and trying to give her a voice that could pass as real. It is like a survivor account, but it's fiction. One of my first readers keeps asking, "Is it true that... did they really do that... did you make that up..." and every single time the answer is YES, they REALLY DID. I'm kind of expecting a firestorm. With CNV, a few reviewers have accused me of glorifying war/torture or denigrating the real spies/resistance agents by giving it all a sensational fictional cast, and I'm expecting a lot more of this kind of criticism with Rose's book.

I haven't yet read Ruta Sepetys's book but I'm really looking forward to it! It's waiting on my Kindle.

I don't know if you've checked any of my earlier blog posts this year, but I wrote a couple of entries while I was visting Ravensbruck in August, which you may be interested in:

http://eegatland.livejournal.com/95830.html

http://eegatland.livejournal.com/96109.html
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blog.sarahlaurence.comblog.sarahlaurence.com on January 25th, 2013 02:57 am (UTC)
Those were interesting posts, thank you. I'm impressed but not surprised to learn how hard you work to give your work authenticity. That it especially important in historical fiction.

Don't listen to those critics. Novelists write about emotional truths. It is a struggle to get most teens to read history for fun, but your work is both entertaining and edifying. There was nothing frivolous or gratuitous in CNV.

I haven't started Between Shades of Grey yet so we shall be reading together. There are a couple of books ahead of it in the queue.

I was out with a group of children's author friends tonight, and the one who hadn't read CNV wrote down the title eagerly.
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Wendy Bdymphna79 on April 2nd, 2013 02:54 am (UTC)
Did you not like The Devil's Arithmetic? It doesn't sound as if you did. I read it when it came out, when I was about eleven, and thought it was wonderful. I still think it holds up well, though it is difficult to evaluate from that place, with all the books that have been written, Holocaust scholarship that has been done, and evolving ways of thinking about the Holocaust that have occurred since it was written. I would be very interested to hear your comments on it. I think Briar Rose is very good as well--and that neither is anything like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, in writing style, philosophy, or quality.
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E Weineegatland on April 2nd, 2013 09:51 am (UTC)
Goodness, did I give the impression I didn't like The Devil's Arithmetic? I LOVED The Devil's Arithmetic. I think it does hold up well, but the curious thing for ME is that I read it when I was much older than 11 (I was about 40), so it didn't feed my teen Holocaust obsession. I am frustrated in that I can't really pinpoint what material I *did* read as a teen, other than The Hiding Place and a couple of sessions watching NBC's mini-series Holocaust. I really am looking forward to reading Briar Rose, but I felt that I ought to leave it till I'd finished Rose Under Fire - I didn't want to be influenced by it.

As for The Devil's Arithmetic, if it had been published when I was 11, it would have been just about my favorite book EVER - combining time travel, strong intergenerational family ties, and the period of history I was most fascinated by at the time. I think what I like best about it is the simplicity and perfection of the resolution. It is one of my daughter's favorite books, too.

It reminds me in many ways of Delia Sherman's The Freedom Maze (or rather, The Freedom Maze reminded me of The Devil's Arithmetic) - the use of the typical middle-grade time travel novel to approach a dark and difficult time period and help the modern reader to understand that these people were JUST LIKE US.

But I wasn't meaning to compare "Holocaust books" - I was just naming a few, and I guess it's the question itself that's flawed, because NONE of these books are like each other except in that they're "Holocaust books." Which says something about the futility of labelling! I've heard Code Name Verity compared to The Book Thief on several occasions and I find the comparison baffling. Because they're both set in World War II? Or because they both make people cry? Personally I think CNV has far more in common with A Little Princess - it's about friendship, and resilience, and magic, and imprisonment, and strength, and storytelling...

Thanks for stopping by a bit belatedly. You make me glad I haven't locked the comments on this entry (I sometimes do, after a while, to stop spam comments!)
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( 34 comments )