Pajama Press

Archive for the ‘Uncertain Soldier’ Category

ASLC Litpicks says “Bass does an excellent job of uncovering the layers of many complex emotions” in Uncertain Soldier

Posted on December 6th, 2018 by pajamapress

Cover: Uncertain Soldier Author: Karen Bass Publisher: Pajama PressASLC Litpicks

Bass does an excellent job of uncovering the layers of many complex emotions: – prejudice toward German prisoners expressed by Canadians at home who had relatives fighting in Europe; – the bullying and hatred experienced by many families and school children who had been born in Canada but were of German heritage; – the emotions of young German soldiers who may have been conscripted to serve their country, but were not necessarily supportive of the Nazi regime….

Mature junior high readers, and senior high students will identify with Bass’s strong male characters whose loyalties are tested and with the complex friendships that develop as the plot unfolds….”

Click here to read the full review

Uncertain Soldier “is a solid, intelligent interpretation of the politics of the [1940s]” says There Will Be Books

Posted on March 24th, 2017 by pajamapress

UncertainSoldier_Internet“…Less traumatic than the American Summer of My German SoldierUncertain Soldier tells the story of Erich Hofmeyer, a German prisoner of war held in Alberta in the winter of 1943-44….

Uncertain Soldier is a solid, intelligent interpretation of the politics of the time and the effect of opinion on morale. Through the richness of its characters, the novel gives voice to a gamut of attitudes, revealing the complexity of life during the 1940s far more thoroughly and effectively than what is taught in history classes. In contrast to the Canadian Sam’s violent insistence that ‘a few firing squads last war would’ve fixed it,’ Erich’s British grandfather astutely notes that ‘more mercy by the Great War’s victors might have prevented the fight that loomed’ (103). The parallel with history is made more powerful by its subtlety; most readers will not hear Sam’s vehemence as an echo of French military politician Ferdinand Foch, who noted at the time that the Treaty of Versailles was ‘not peace [but] an Armistice for twenty years,’ asking for harsher restrictions to be place on the defeated Germany. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Erich’s grandfather’s position is reminiscent of John Maynard Keynes’s insistence that the conditions were too harsh, that the Treaty was a ‘Carthaginian peace,’ a peace ensured by the complete annihilation of the vanquished, such as Rome’s conquering of Carthage. Historians still debate the political ‘what ifs’ of the first half of the twentieth century, and this uncertainty, manifested at all levels of society, is brilliantly woven into the fabric of Bass’s text.”

Click here to read the full review

Uncertain Soldier wins the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People

Posted on November 18th, 2016 by pajamapress

We are thrilled to extend our congratulations to Karen Bass, author of Uncertain Soldier. This suspenseful YA novel, set in northern Alberta during World War II, has won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People. This is Bass’ second Geoffrey Bilson Award win, and this is Pajama Press’ third year in a row to see a title win the award.

Karen Bass accepted this prestigious award Thursday night at the 12th annual TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards celebration. Hosted at The Carlu in Toronto, this gala is a highlight of the publishing year in the Canadian children’s book industry. The Geoffrey Bilson Award, named for a Canadian author and history professor, is one of six major prizes awarded at the gala each year. This is the first award win for Uncertain Soldier, which was nominated for the 2016 Forest of Reading Red Maple Award, and the 2016 IODE Violet Downey Book Award.

Pajama Press is proud to mention that Bass’s most recent release, The Hill, is a 2016 White Ravens Selection. Other accolades for The Hill include a 2016 Junior Library Guild Selection, and a 2017 Forest of Reading Red Maple Award nomination. We are also excited to announce Two Times a Traitor, a new Middle Grade novel by Karen Bass to be published in the fall of 2017.

Pajama Press would also like to congratulate Michelle Barker and Renné Benoit for their nomination for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for A Year of Borrowed MenAlma Fullerton and Brian Deines for their nomination for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award for In a Cloud of Dust, and all the other award nominees and winners of the evening. Our nominated titles were in such good company; it is truly an honour to be recognized alongside some of the best books in the country. Special congratulations to Melanie Florence and François Thisdale for winning the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for Missing Nimâmâ.

Pajama Press thanks the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and TD Bank for their continued dedication to children’s literacy in Canada.

Three Pajama Press titles nominated for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards

Posted on September 8th, 2016 by pajamapress

Pajama Press is thrilled to announce that three of our titles have been nominated for the 2016 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards.

A Year of Borrowed Men, written by Michelle Barker and illustrated by Renné Benoit, has been nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.

AYearOfBorrowedMen_WebsiteThe picture book, which is written from the WWII memories of Michelle’s mother Gerda, celebrates the ability for humanity to win out over hostility during a dark time in world history. Gerda’s father has been conscripted into the German army, and the “borrowed men” sent to work the family’s farm in his place are prisoners of war forced to labour in their enemy’s homeland. Still, the seven-year-old girl finds small ways to defy authority and build a forbidden friendship. This book has also been nominated for the 2017 Chocolate Lily Book Award.

In a Cloud of Dust, written by Alma Fullerton and illustrated by Brian Deines, has been nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award.

homecover-in-a-cloudIn this picture book set in Tanzania, a young girl named Anna is determined to get an education in spite of the long walk that leaves her no daylight in which to do homework at the end of the day. Working through the lunch hour instead, she misses a visit from the bicycle library. Luckily, her compassionate classmates find a solution that lets everyone get home faster than ever before. In a Cloud of Dust has previously won the Rainforest of Reading Award, been nominated for the Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award, and been a Foreword Reviews Best Children’s Books of Fall 2015 selection.


Uncertain Soldier by Karen Bass has been nominated for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.

UncertainSoldier_InternetUncertain Soldier is a suspenseful YA novel about a WWII prisoner of war struggling with conflicting loyalties. All his life Erich has learned that keeping his head down is the best way to avoid trouble. But when his silence could cost a friend dearly, it may be time to stand up at last. Uncertain Soldier has previously been nominated for the IODE Violet Downey Book Award and the Forest or Reading Red Maple Award. In 2014, author Karen Bass won the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for her novel Graffiti Knight.

From the Canadian Children’s Book Centre press release:

“The nominated books exemplify some of the very best work by Canadian authors and illustrators across the country. The winners of the English-language awards will be announced at an invitation-only gala event at The Carlu in Toronto on November 17, 2016. The winners of the Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse will be announced at an invitation-only gala at Le Winsor in Montreal on November 1, 2016. Overall, $135,000 in prize monies will be awarded.

This year, TD and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre are once again partnering with CBC/Radio-Canada to present the Fan Choice Award/Choix du public littérature jeunesse. Young readers are invited to choose their favourite book from the titles shortlsited for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and the Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse. The awards will be presented to the winning authors at the Toronto and Montreal galas.”

Click here to read the full press release and the lists of nominees.

For more information about these awards, please visit the Canadian Children’s Book Centre website.



Uncertain Soldier shortlisted for the IODE Violet Downey Book Award

Posted on March 31st, 2016 by pajamapress

UncertainSoldier_InternetUncertain Soldier by Karen Bass has been shortlisted for the 2016 National Chapter of Canada IODE Violet Downey Book Award. This award is offered annually for the best children’s English book containing at least 500 words of text. The winner will be announced at IODE Canada’s 116th National Annual Meeting being held at the Lambton Golf and Country Club, Toronto, on May 27th, 2016.

Also nominated for this award are:

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
Speechless by Jennifer Mook-Sang
Avis Dolphin by Frieda Wishinsky and Willow Dawson
The Dogs by Allan Stratton

IODE Canada is a national women’s charitable organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for individuals through education support, community service, and citizenship programs.

You can learn more at the IODE website.

Uncertain Soldier, a suspenseful YA novel about a WWII prisoner of war struggling with conflicting loyalties, has also been nominated for the Forest of Reading Red Maple Award.

Uncertain Soldier “textures [history] with humanity”—CanLit for LittleCanadians

Posted on August 11th, 2015 by pajamapress

UncertainSoldier“A book like Uncertain Soldierdoes not go down easily.  It burns in your throat with the rising bile of injustice and cowardice and the horrors of prejudice inflicted in war and out.  It churns in your gut and then sits like a heavy meal of reality and history.  Sometimes getting beyond that all is tough.  Karen Bass again, as she did in Graffiti Knight, examines an ill-fated part of our history (her author’s note is an especially enlightening and valuable read) and textures it with humanity that makes it a touching story of distressing times.  Uncertain Soldier will blow the historical fiction award juries away with its power.”

Click here to read the full post.

Publishers Weekly praises Uncertain Soldier

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 by pajamapress

UncertainSoldier“German sailor Erich is not a Nazi, despite being part of the Third Reich’s military. Max, a Canadian boy from a German family, does not support Hitler, but peers in rural Alberta subject him to vicious torment anyway. When Erich is taken prisoner, he crosses paths with Max at a logging camp where several of the POWs are sent as labor. The two find support in each other as they face a world that views them as trespassers. Not only does Erich suffer as an enemy alien, his fellow German prisoners suspect him of being an Allied sympathizer, because he speaks English. Can he prove his worth in a risky effort to uncover who has been sabotaging the Germans with dangerous logging accidents? Can both boys ever find peace and acceptance in a world where war-driven fear and resentment overshadow people’s humanity? …readers will likely find the two main characters’ journeys to safety and justice in a cruel world compelling.”

Uncertain Soldier “a taut, adrenaline-fuelled novel”—Canadian Children’s Book News

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 by pajamapress

UncertainSoldierUncertain Soldier, by the award-winning author of Graffiti Knight, is a taut, adrenaline-fuelled novel of enmity and loyalty set in rural Alberta in the years 1943 and 1944. The conflicts and prejudices of World War II play out with violent consequences in Canada as well as overseas…. Bass writes with a visceral power. As she skillfully ratchets up the tension, both Erich and Max find the courage to stand up for their friends, and themselves, and to break the circles of bullying and prejudice that have held them (and their tormenters) prisoner. Wrestling with complex issues of friendship, loyalty, politics and violence, Uncertain Soldier would be an excellent choice for a teen boys’ book club.”

Resource Links calls Uncertain Soldier “Compelling”

Posted on June 18th, 2015 by pajamapress

UncertainSoldier“Erich Hofmeyer is an uncertain soldier. He enlisted in the German navy only because his father left him no choice, and now his ship has been sunk, and he is in in a POW camp in northern Alberta. His British grandparents have given him a broader world view than his fellow German soldiers, and he becomes a target of vicious bullying when he expresses what is perceived as disloyalty to the Reich. When the opportunity arises to leave the camp to work in the bush logging, he and his friend jump at the chance. But the logging camp has its complications: half the workers are Canadians who hate the German prisoners because of the deaths or imprisonment of relatives fighting overseas. At a nearby farm, Max Schmidt is also uncertain. His father wants him to be proud of his German heritage, but he is bullied daily at school by the other boys, who take out their anger on this little “Hitler”. Max’s family is under suspicion, as all German nationals were, so there is no one to whom Max can take his concerns. On a visit to the logging camp, he is befriended by Erich, who senses their shared experiences. The German prisoners at the camp are increasingly endangered by mysterious accidents, and in their fear they turn on Erich as the only one who speaks English fluently. The attacks on Max become more vicious, until he barely escapes being hanged. Max takes off into the bush, and only the skill of the native tracker Christmas and Erich’s help save him from drowning. Both Max and Erich have learned to stand up to an enemy and stand up for a friend. Bass has shone a light on a lesser known part of Canadian history. German nationals living in Canada were discomfiting for many communities, at a time when husbands and sons were fighting and dying in Europe. This novel shows solid research into the conditions of the 38,000 German POW’s in Canada, and life in rural Alberta in the 1940s…the visceral details and important themes make the journey compelling.”

Thematic Links: Friendship; Bullying; Stereotyping and Racism; World War II – Canada – POW Camps

—Patricia Jermey

Uncertain Soldier “an excellent novel”—CM Magazine

Posted on May 26th, 2015 by pajamapress

UncertainSoldier“…Many of the fictional Max’s experiences really happened to Hartmann Nagel, a friend of Bass’s father whom she consulted in researching Uncertain Soldier. Nagel also provided information about logging camp life in that era. Christmas, who plays a pivotal role in finding Max, is based on a Cree man who worked part-time on Bass’s grandfather’s farm.

On the whole, Uncertain Soldier is an excellent novel, fascinating for its detail about Canadian rural life in the 1940s, rich in male characters with whom boys can identify, and important in theme—that one should not be too quick to judge others. Highly Recommended.”
—Ruth Latta