Once, by Morris Gleitzman, narrated by the author.  2010. Bolinda Audio.

Placing Felix in a Catholic orphanage for protection was the last selfless and difficult act of his Jewish parents on the eve of Nazi takeovers in Poland. Even after 3 years, Felix is confident they will be back to take him home. A book-burning incident in the orphanage courtyard causes Felix to run away to find his parents (bookstore owners) and warn them to hide their books.

Felix is young - maybe about 9 years old - and he is completely unaware of Hitler's persecution of the Jews in Poland. His rationalizations become a little tedious because of the tenacity with which he holds on to them, but they are consistent with his age and his experiences.

Felix is also a storyteller. Each chapter begins with the word, "Once," and this device neatly ties together the episodes in his odyssey to find his parents. The author/narrator completely captures the essence of the character's innocence with his expressive voice, but does not gloss over the atrocities Felix encounters. Ultimately, the open ending is hopeful.

This book could be read or listened-to by both boys and girls, and would be a great enrichment title for a unit on the Holocaust.


Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Lainie Taylor, narrated by Khristine Hvam. Hachette Audio, 2011.

This Young Adult sci-fi/fantasy takes place (mostly) in Prague, where Karou, raised by a foster family, tries hard to fit in with the rest of her friends. She's in school and studying art, but runs errands in other dimensions to collect teeth for her foster father, a wizard and wish-giver. He uses the teeth for ... hmmm ... it's unclear, but it has something to do with the war on Seraphs. After opening a forbidden door in his workshop and wandering through, Karou is catapulted into the war and a relationship with Akiva, an enemy Seraph, who seems strangely familiar, but who puts her and her family in grave danger.

The dialog is believable, and the character description is vivid. There is a sensuous love scene near the end, and a surprising plot twist that opens the way for the sequel (Days of Blood and Starlight). Definitely for older teens, because of some graphic violence and sex.