Carol Matas is an award-winning Canadian young-adult novelist, who has written over 30 books and received more than 45 awards. Receiving her BA in English from the University of Western Ontario in 1970, and graduating from the Actors Lab in London, England in 1972, Carol originally came from a theater background, and first started writing plays. Carol never actually planned on becoming a writer; it wasn’t until she started listening to stories of her actor friends that she started to try a little bit of writing on her own. It was actually a story about the journey of a raindrop, read to Carol by a friend, that inspired her to write her first story about a magical flowered teapot. Since then, Carol has written a great number of historical fiction books, many focusing on the Holocaust and World War II. She is particularly well known for her series of Holocaust novels including- Lisa, Jesper, After the War, The Garden, and Daniel’s Story, which was commissioned by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Some of the awards Carol has received include the following: the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction in 1988, the Mr. Christie Honour Book in 1989, the Young Adult’s Choice Award in 1991, the Silver Birch Award in 1994, the NY Public Library Book for Teenagers in 1994, and the Manitoba Reader’s Choice Award in 1996. The following statements are interesting facts about Carol Matas and her novels.
*Carol Matas has previously been a teacher. She was a professor at Bemidji State University in Minnesota, and a creative writing instructor at the University of Winnipeg.
*Carol Matas first started writing historical fiction when told a story by her husband of his parents' experiences in World War II. His father, only twelve when Germany occupied Denmark, was in the resistance at the age of thirteen. Carol decided to write a story based on his experiences. This story led her to think about stories from the past she began to write more historical fiction.
*When writing a historical fiction novel, Carol will conduct research on the time period by reading many books, watching documentaries and videos, and finally, by interviewing people who experienced the atrocities of the holocaust and WWII.
*Carol’s novel, Daniel’s Story was commissioned by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and was adapted into a permanent exhibition. The exhibition entitled, "Remember the Children: Daniel's Story," tells the narrative of what it was like to be a Jewish child in Germany as the world turned upside down. It opens with a five-minute film composed of a series of photographs from before and during World War II. The narrator is the adult Daniel, who makes it clear that he and his father survived the Holocaust but that his sister and mother perished. The exhibition contains many sound recordings, and pictures which are quite graphic. At the conclusion of the exhibit, is a place for children to record their responses to questions and their thoughts and feels about the exhibit with markers and paper.
* When asked about the highlight of her career, Carol responds that it is the ongoing e-mail and letters, which she receive from her readers. She says, “It's wonderful when a child writes and tells you that you have affected their life in some small way, for the good.” She discusses her goal in writing, which is “to open the world, expand horizons, to get people to think, so that we can all help make the world a better place.”
I believe Carol’s novel Daniel’s Story, embodies her goal of writing quite well- it allows young readers the opportunity to think critically about the world and analyze history and society today. The novel tells the story of fourteen-year-old Daniel and his experiences of being forced from his home in Frankfurt and sent on a long dangerous journey to Poland and later to Auschwitz during the late 1930s. The story details what it was like to be a child during this horrifying time. Dealing with themes such as terror, the struggle for survival, courage, hope, love, life, and despair, the novel is thought provoking and allows readers to reflect on this time period and make connections to history and life today. This book not only permits readers to learn more about this time period, but also offers the opportunity to be engaged in an interesting, thought provoking book, which will cause readers to think critically about this time period and experiences in life which are emotional and trying.