Books by Monique Polak

ROOM FOR ONE MORE by Monique Polak
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2019

"As timely as historical fiction can be. (Historical fiction. 8-11)"
Rosetta's life changes when a 16-year-old refugee from the Nazis comes to live with her. Read full book review >
THE TASTE OF RAIN by Monique Polak
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 3, 2019

"Although based on true accounts, this story does not quite match the gravitas of this fascinating piece of history. (resources) (Historical fiction. 11-14)"
Gwen and her Girl Guides group fight for survival during the Japanese occupation of China during World War II. Read full book review >
I AM A FEMINIST by Monique Polak
YOUNG ADULT
Released: May 7, 2019

"From body image to date rape, pay inequality to sexual harassment, this guide introduces important topics that can be difficult for teenagers to discuss. (author's note, glossary, resources, references, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)"
A volume that seeks to clarify the history and complexity of the meaning of "feminist" for a new generation of teens. Read full book review >
PART-TIME LION TRAINER by Monique Polak
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 19, 2019

"While Jelly's tales go on a bit too long, her skills and the story's action-packed ending, however implausible, reward readers who stay tuned. (Fiction. 6-10)"
Angelica, nicknamed Jelly, uses her storytelling abilities to avert a crisis at the animal-rescue center where her parents serve on the board. Read full book review >
PLANET GRIEF by Monique Polak
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

"Useful—but purpose trumps art. (Fiction. 10-14)"
How can kids who are dealing with their own grief help other kids with similar problems? Read full book review >
CAMP CATASTROPHE by Monique Polak
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 23, 2018

"An unassuming summer-camp story about being yourself. (Fiction. 7-10)"
Angelica, also known as Jelly, is a great storyteller, but this time her imagination could get her into a heap of trouble in this series opener. Read full book review >
LEGGINGS REVOLT by Monique Polak
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 19, 2016

"Thin but nevertheless intriguing. (Fiction. 10-14)"
Eric has just moved to a new school with a strict principal. However, Mr. Germinato seems most concerned with the school dress code, which applies only to girls. Read full book review >
FORENSICS SQUAD UNLEASHED by Monique Polak
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 28, 2016

"Science and courage make for an appealing mystery for dog lovers. (Mystery. 8-11)"
A 13-year-old budding criminal analyst gets to go to forensics day camp in the summer and also finds a real mystery to crack. Read full book review >
LEARNING THE ROPES by Monique Polak
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2015

"A quick read with a fascinating focus. (Fiction. 11-14)"
Fifteen-year-old Mandy dreams of becoming a rope-climbing aerialist in the circus and flies off to Montreal to attend circus camp despite her father's fears. Read full book review >
STRAIGHT PUNCH by Monique Polak
YOUNG ADULT
Released: March 1, 2014

"Though simple, the story provides both insight and entertainment. (Fiction. 12-17)"
A girl who can't stop "tagging"—spray painting her initials on buildings—is caught one too many times and sent to a struggling alternative school in a poor neighborhood in Montreal. Read full book review >
SO MUCH IT HURTS by Monique Polak
YOUNG ADULT
Released: Sept. 1, 2013

"Best for bibliotherapy. (Fiction. 12-15)"
A teenage thespian becomes romantically involved with her abusive adult acting coach in this straightforward cautionary tale. Read full book review >
MIRACLEVILLE by Monique Polak
CLASSICS
Released: April 1, 2011

Sixteen-year-old Ani, devout, straitlaced and anxious, could not be more different from her impious, free-spirited, sexually active 15-year-old sister, Colette. Ani takes after her mother, who runs Saintly Souvenirs, a tourist shop in the pilgrim town of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Quebec; Colette is more like their nonbelieving dad. When Ani's mom is paralyzed in an accident, Ani turns to Father Francoeur, an old friend of her mother's newly returned from abroad. But Father Francoeur and Ani's mom have a shared past, and Ani's family is not quite as it seems. It would be a better story without religion. The basilica setting and the pilgrims coming in hope of a miracle are interesting, and it's clear they're intended to mirror Ani's family, but, as it is portrayed here, faith is more platitudes and glow-in-the-dark Jesus statues than a changing holy force. Take away God, and both story and characters would seem more real and less distracted. When their father demands, "What about the God you love so much?...Where is He now, when you really need Him?" it feels like Catholic paint-by-numbers. This tale falls into an old trap: Good-girl Ani is not well-developed enough to be wholly sympathetic, while Colette, the miscreant, is the star. There are better books about religious identity out there; try The Possibilities of Sainthood, by Donna Freitas (2008), for a start. (Fiction. 14 & up)Read full book review >
THE MIDDLE OF EVERYWHERE by Monique Polak
FICTION
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

Noah's mom thinks he needs to spend some time with his father, who happens to live in the village of George River, in Quebec's Far North. The Arctic landscape, climate and culture are different from Montreal in ways both anticipated and surprising. Learning the ways of the Inuit and discovering the horrors perpetrated on the community by Qallunaat, as outsiders are called, begins in the school where his father teaches and continues on a winter camping trip with sled dogs, ice-fishing and a storm that brings white-out conditions to increase campers' isolation. A great deal of information about daily life and Inuit culture is packed into the recounting of a few days in the community. Beer, bullying and a hint of romance keep the first-person narrative in the typical 15-year-old realm. The conditions of life are harsh but not impossible, and the gradual rapprochement between Noah and his dad adds a nice counterpoint to Noah's reaction to this exotic world into which he not only arrives but that he discovers he admires. (Fiction. 12-16)Read full book review >