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Orca HONOR through March 2024

The Taste of Rain
By (author): Monique Polak
Monique Polak


Orca Book Publishers - Victoria



Product Form:


Form detail:

Trade, Adhesive bound, Laminated cover
Paperback , Trade, Adhesive bound, Laminated cover


Juvenile: Age (years) 9 - 12, Grade (CAN) 4 - 7, Grade (US) 4 - 7, Reading age 9 - 12
Sep 03, 2019
$10.95 CAD


7.5in x 5 x 0.5 in | 240 gr

Page Count:

224 pages
FSC certified – mixed sources C103214
Orca Book Publishers
JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / Asia
Children’s / Teenage fiction: Historical fiction|Children’s / Teenage emotions: Courage, bravery, hope|Children’s / Teenage personal and social topics: Relationships (non-family / groups)|Children’s / Teenage social topics: War and conflict issues|c 1938 to c 1946 (World War Two period)|Interest age: from c 9 years
USBBY Outstanding International Books List 2020, Commended OLA Best Bets—Top Ten 2019, Commended CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens 2020, Commended
  • Short Description
This novel for middle readers takes place in a Japanese internment camp in China in WWII, where thirteen-year-old Gwen follows the Girl Guide code in order to survive.
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 more than thirty books for young people. She is the three-time winner of the Quebec Writers' Federation Prize for Children's and YA Literature for her novels Hate Mail, What World is Left and Room for One More. In addition to teaching at Marianopolis College in Montreal, Monique is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Maclean's Magazine, the Montreal Gazette and other Postmedia newspapers. She is also a columnist on ICI Radio-Canada's Plus on est de fous, plus on lit! In 2016, Monique was the CBC/Quebec Writers' Federation inaugural writer-in-residence. Monique lives in Montreal.

Contributor Website

“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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