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Groundwood Books Fall 2021

A Boy Is Not a Ghost
By (author): Edeet Ravel
Edeet Ravel


Groundwood Books - Toronto



Product Form:


Form detail:

Printed dust jacket
Hardcover , Printed dust jacket


Juvenile: Age (years) 9 - 12, Grade (CAN) 4 - 7, Grade (US) 4 - 7
Sep 01, 2021
$16.99 CAD


7.5in x 5 in | 0.74 lb

Page Count:

248 pages


3 black-and-white illustrations
Groundwood Books Ltd
Groundwood Books
JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / Holocaust
Hackmatack Award 2022, Short-listed Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Best Books for Kids and Teens 2022, Commended Governor General's Literary Award 2022, Long-listed
  • Short Description

In this sequel to the award-winning A Boy Is Not a Bird, a boy is exiled to Siberia during World War II. Based on a true story.

In this sequel to the award-winning A Boy Is Not a Bird, a boy is exiled to Siberia during World War II. Based on a true story.

Torn from his home in Eastern Europe, with his father imprisoned in a Siberian gulag, twelve-year-old Natt finds himself stranded with other deportees in a schoolyard in Novosibirsk. And he is about to discover that life can indeed get worse than the horrific two months he and his mother have spent being transported on a bug-infested livestock train. He needs to write to his best friend, Max, but he knows the Soviet police reads everyone’s mail. So Natt decides to write in code, and his letters are a lifeline, even though he never knows whether Max will receive them.

Every day becomes a question of survival, and where they might be shunted to next. When his mother is falsely arrested for stealing potatoes, Natt is truly on his own and must learn how to live the uncertain life of an exile. Practice being invisible as a ghost, change your name and identity if you have to, watch out for spies, and never draw the attention of the authorities.

Even then, he will need luck on his side if he is ever going to be reunited with his family.

Key Text Features

author's note



Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

Describe how a narrator's or speaker's point of view influences how events are described.

Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).

  • The novel is based on the true story of Nahum Halpern, Edeet Ravel’s fifth-grade teacher who settled in Montreal after the war.

  • The award-winning prequel, A Boy Is Not a Bird, will be released in paperback in August 2021. 

  • An award-winning author born on an Israeli kibbutz, Revel holds a PhD in Jewish Studies from McGill University. She has written books for both young readers and adults, and one of her novels has been adapted for film (The Saver, 2015).

EDEET RAVEL is an award-winning author of books for both young readers and adults. Her YA novel, Held, was nominated for the CLA Young Adult Book Award and the Arthur Ellis Crime Award, and her YA novel, The Saver, has been adapted for film and received awards around the world. Her novels for adults have won the Hugh MacLennan Prize and the Jewish Book Award and have been nominated for the Governor General’s Award and the Giller Prize. Edeet was born on an Israeli kibbutz and holds a PhD in Jewish Studies from McGill University.

Contributor Website

A strikingly jaunty, present-tense account of suffering and dislocation.

- Wall Street Journal

A suspenseful, heartwarming read.

- Toronto Star

An inspiring tale of survival which successfully brings an important forgotten piece of history to life.

- CM: Canadian Review of Materials

Ravel’s novel offers a compelling picture of life in the U.S.S.R. under the reign of Stalin and of one family’s extraordinary adventures in surviving its depredations.

- Booklist

A compelling read.

- Montreal Review of Books

Utter­ly com­pelling and real­is­tic … unforgettable.

- Jewish Book Council

Although his story is sorrowful, Natt teaches us that resilience and kindness can still be a choice.

- Calgary Herald

Thought provoking.

- Cloud Lake Literary

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