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Kids' book of the month

The Earth is SingingThe Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis kicks off the new year as our January Kids Book of the Month. Closely based on the true story of the Jews of Riga, The Earth is Singing is a tale of love and loss, betrayal and survival.

My name is Hanna Michelson. I am fifteen. I am Latvian. I live with my mother and grandmother. My father is missing – taken by the Russians. I’m training to be a dancer. But none of that matters now. Because the Nazis have arrived, and I am a Jew. And as far as they are concerned, that is all that matters. This is my story.

Before the war, 15 year old Hanna used to spend her days attending the ballet school in Riga and daydreaming about her boyfriend Uldis. But now her father is missing, taken away by Soviet Forces and no one knows what lies ahead. When the Nazis invade, they enforce bewildering and brutal new rules on the Jews of Riga, and Hanna must fight to keep what is left of her family together as they are commanded to move into the ghetto with 30,000 others. Faced with the prospect of losing her mother and grandmother forever, Hanna is pushed to her limits in a horrifying world where the smallest choices could mean life or death.

 
Vanessa Curtis is the award-winning author of contemporary YA novels including Zelah Green, winner of Manchester Children’s Book Award and shortlisted for Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, and The Haunting of Tabitha Grey.
 
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The Earth is Singing is Vanessa’s first historical novel, which she was inspired to write when she discovered her own Jewish Latvian heritage. Vanessa says: 'The story of the Jews of Riga is not widely known. After finding out that my great-grandmother was born there, but came over to England at the turn of the twentieth century, I began to wonder what happened to the Jewish friends and relatives that she had left behind. I visited the Riga Ghetto Museum and saw photographs of many of the thousands of Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis in 1941. Their eyes seemed to be telling me to relate their story, so that is what I did.'
 
All our free copies have now gone, but The Earth is Singing will be available at all good booksellers on Jan. 27, Holocaust Memorial Day: the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and Birkenau.