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Orca SEL (Social-Emotional Learning)--FRIENDSHIP through December 2020

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The Taste of Rain
By (author): Monique Polak
9781459820265 Paperback, Trade English Juvenile: Age (years) from 9 - 12, Grade (CAN) from 4 - 7, Grade (US) from 4 - 7, Reading age from 9 - 12 JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / Asia Sep 03, 2019
$10.95 CAD
Active 5 x 7.5 x 0.5 in | 240 gr 224 pages FSC certified – mixed sources C103214 Orca Book Publishers
USBBY Outstanding International Books List 2020, Commended OLA Best Bets—Top Ten 2019, Commended CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens 2020, Commended
A positive outlook can help us during difficult times. But does it sometimes blind us to the truth?

It is 1945, and thirteen-year-old Gwen has been a prisoner at the Weihsien Internment Camp in northern China for nearly two and a half years. Gwen is one of 140 children who were enrolled at a boarding school in Chefoo when the Japanese Imperial Army invaded China.

Life in the camp is difficult. There is not enough food or water, and even the children are forced to do hard labor. But Miss E., one of their teachers from Chefoo, has come up with an unusual scheme: she will follow the Girl Guide Code, treating Gwen and her friends as if they are part of a Girl Guide troop. Girl Guides promise not only to stay positive in the most challenging situations but also to do good turns, meaning they must be kind to others without any expectation of reward. Gwendolyn hopes that when she grows up, she will be as courageous and optimistic as Miss E.

But then Gwen learns that Miss E. is not as full of answers as she seems, and she realizes that in order to protect a friend, she will have to do something that could never be considered a good turn.

Monique Polak is the author of over twenty novels for kids and young adults. She has also written two nonfiction books for kids as well as a board book for toddlers. Monique teaches English literature, creative writing and humanities at Marianopolis College in Montreal.

Key Selling Points
Based on a true story, The Taste of Rain tells the tale of a young girl who grapples with physical hardship and moral dilemmas while imprisoned in the Weihsien internment camp in China during World War II.
The book features themes of loyalty, friendship, prisoners of war, making moral choices, codes of honor, and prejudice.
This is a unique story with a vivid setting and memorable characters.
Author Monique Polak has a special interest in researching the lives of children during World War II. Her mother was a Holocaust survivor, who spent nearly three years in a Nazi concentration camp. Her novel What World is Left, winner of the Quebec Writers’ Federation Literature Prize, was inspired by her mother’s wartime experience.
Monique’s editor heard an NPR segment about a Weihsien survivor named Mary Previte and suggested that Monique write about the Girl Guides in the camp.
Real-life missionary and Olympic gold-medal winner Eric Liddell (depicted in the movie Chariots of Fire) died of cancer in Weihsien in February 1945 and is a character in the book.

Marketing and Promo Plans

Print and online advertising campaigns
Promotion at national and regional school, library and trade conferences
Extensive ARC distribution, including LibraryThing and NetGalley
Blog post geared towards teachers with historic context of book
Social media promotion
Planned appearance at local writers festival
Outreach in Orca newsletter
Bookmark with other Monique Polak middle-grade novels

“This beautiful book is a song to courage and kindness, voices raised in cheerfulness faced with the hollowness of hope. It’s about the dignity and spirit that frees a prisoner from despair, a deeply felt prayer and yet somehow—amazingly—a rousing hymn. I loved every note.” - Tim Wynne-Jones, award-winning author of The Emperor of Any Place

"Fascinating piece of history." - Kirkus Reviews

"So well-told and compelling…It is the sort of novel that will engage and inform grown-up readers as well. Highly Recommended." - CM: Canadian Review of Materials

“Highly readable with lots of dialogue, readers will encounter death and torture in learning about another aspect of the consequences of WWII, but will also learn of bravery and compassion, and the power of keeping ‘your chin up!’” - School Library Connection

“Polak competently explores the experience, adding perceptive touches such as the girls’ complicated feelings...A compelling story.” - The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books

“It is a reminder that WWII was also experienced beyond the borders of Europe giving new dimensions to a much-studied topic. A book that would be a good addition to the study of World War II.” - Resource Links

“This book is highly recommended for middle school libraries. Its setting and historical references, although not as famous as that of the Holocaust, provide a backdrop for a tale that is as chilling as it can be without being over the top.” - Must Read Literature: K thru YA

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