Sunday, 10 March 2013

Fiction A Winter’s Day in 1939


NZ Writer
Melinda Szymanik
A Winter’s Day in 1939
 Themes:  Children in wartime/ Family life/ Polish refugees/ Survival/ 
World War 1939-1945 Poland/ World War 1939-1945 Russia

Scholastic 2013        $18.50pb  285 pages 
ISBN 978 1 7754 3030 8

Note: review contains spoiler
 Adam  lives on a comfortable farm in a small village in eastern Poland and his life is sweet.  Then, when he is 12 years old, the area is invaded by the Soviet Red Army and  his whole life and that of his family changes forever. Shuttled off on a nightmare cattle train, they end up in a labour camp in Russia were they are starved of nourishing food and where their father is forced to work in the forests to earn money in order to feed them at all. In so many stories like this, the reader is aware of the writer telling the story. Here we hear only Adam’s voice as we agonise with him through his terror that this may be all that life is going to offer him and as he endures the death of his two sisters and then his mother. This book, which is based on the experiences of Melinda's father and his family, is hard to put down and even harder to forget. 

Year 7 up/ Age 11 up 


 Google Melinda's name for much information about this prolific and successful writer or explore her blog at

Photo acknowledgments to Melinda Szymanik


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