$16.95 Paperback with B&W photographs

112 Pages • 7.5" x 9"

Buy the eBook

Icon_kobo Icon_ibook

Ages: 9 and up

Reading Levels

Grade: 5/6

Guided Reading Level: Y

The extraordinary true story that brings the history of the Holocaust to life for young readers

From the foreword by Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu: "How extraordinary that this humble suitcase has enabled children all over the world to learn through Hana's story the terrible history of what happened and that it continues to urge them to heed the warnings of history."

In the spring of 2000, Fumiko Ishioka, the curator of a small Holocaust education centre for children in Tokyo, received a very special shipment for an exhibit she was planning. She had asked the curators at the Auschwitz museum if she could borrow some artifacts connected to the experience of children at the camp. Among the items she received was an empty suitcase. From the moment she saw it, Fumiko was captivated by the writing on the outside that identified its owner - Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, Waisenkind (the German word for orphan). Children visiting the centre were full of questions. Who was Hana Brady? Where did she come from? What was she like? How did Hana become an orphan? What happened to her? Fueled by the children’s curiosity and her own need to know, Fumiko began a year of detective work, scouring the world for clues to the story of Hana Brady.

Writer Karen Levine follows Fumiko in her search through history, from present-day Japan, Europe and North America back to 1938 Czechoslovakia and the young Hana Brady, a fun-loving child with a passion for ice skating. Together with Fumiko, we learn of Hana's loving parents and older brother, George, and discover how the family's happy life in a small town was turned upside down by the invasion of the Nazis. Based on an award-winning CBC documentary, Hana's Suitcase takes the reader on an incredible journey full of mystery and memories, which come to life through the perspectives of Fumiko, Hana and later Hana's brother, who now lives in Canada. Photographs and original wartime documents enhance this extraordinary story that bridges cultures, generations and time.

Ideal for young readers aged 9 and up. See the 10th Anniversary edition of Hana's Suitcase, featuring 60 pages of bonus material.

Rights have been sold for Hana's Suitcase in 40 countries around the world. The book has been adapted as a play by Emil Sher and made into a documentary film, Inside Hana’s Suitcase, which premiered in 2009. 

Check out the Quillcast on Hana's Suitcase: Karen Levine and publisher Margie Wolfe talk about dealing with dark issues in children's books, how Hana's Suitcase came to be, and how this story has changed their lives.

Selected as one of CBC's Top 100 Young Adults Books That Make You Proud To Be Canadian.


  • 2006 Yad Vashem Prize for Children's Holocaust Literature

  • Israel UNICEF Paolo Ungari Award

  • The Canadian Library Association's Children's Book of the Year

  • The Rocky Mountain Book Award

  • The National Jewish Book Award in the USA

  • The Association of Jewish Libraries' Sydney Taylor Award (Older Readers)

  • The Ontario Library Association's Silver Birch Award

  • The Ontario Library Association's Golden Oak Award

  • The National Chapter of the IODE Violet Downey Book Award

  • The Canadian Jewish Book Award 2003

  • Canadian Information Book Award

  • The Torgi Literary Award from the Canadian National Assocation of the Blind

  • The Atlantic Library Association's Hackmatack Book Award

  • Governor General's Award Nominee


For more information on Hana's Suitcase, please visit Also visit the the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre's website to see their education program around Hana's Suitcase at

  • "This remarkable, true story allows the young reader to understand the impact of the Holocaust on families and individuals, and to realize that each person has the capability of making a difference. Beautifully written." -The Canadian Jewish News, May 16, 2002

  • "When a suitcase bearing the name of Hana Brady arrives at a Holocaust education centre in Tokyo, curator Fumiko Ishioka becomes obsessed with discovering the story of the young orphan who once owned the suitcase. The resulting search for information about Hana, her life, and her family makes for gripping reading in this true story. Part detective story, part historical narrative, and part tribute to Hana and the other children whose lives were ended by the Nazis, this is a beautiful, sad, and deeply respectful book of determinations, healing and closure." -Island Parent, November 1, 2002

  • "Although based on a true story, this book does come close to being a work of faction in which known facts about Hana and her life are interwoven with Klein’s imaginative description of Hana’s emotional life, concerns, and thoughts. Whatever category it fits into, it is certainly a moving read." -Viewpoint, 2003

  • "I found this book special. I enjoyed seeing the photos and pictures that Hana had drawn. To me Hana was a girl like any other except she was born into an era where being Jewish could change your life. Hana’s Suitcase is an emotional story about a young girl’s hopes, dreams and tragedies." -Townsville Bulletin General News, September 9, 2003

  • "Magic stems from a true story. Some of the connections forged amidst the most seemingly chaotic and unconnected events make for sagas that only happen in real life. The story of Hana’s Suitcase is such a saga. Few story tellers could weave the tangled webs of Hana’s Suitcase and achieve a believable plot – yet this take, linking people of three continents during a period of 70 years, defies fairy tales – it is pure magic, albeit born of sheer, absolute evil." -Weekender, November 29, 2003

  • "Written in deceptively simple language, capable of pleasing children and adults, Hana’s Suitcase is an extraordinarily powerful book." -The Age, July 19, 2002

  • "Levine writes at a walking pace and with a limited vocabulary, but the ups and down, the narrow timing of Ishioka’s search, give the story momentum and suspense. Brady’s more distant and general recollections of Hana enliven with anecdotes, provide a glimpse of a warm hearted, engaging girl whose innocent aspirations and pleasure underscore the unspeakable horror of Nazi crimes. Like the very best of museum exhibits, Hana’s Suitcases shows how facts and objects can be put together to honour its subject in a very personal and loving way. Highly recommended." -The Toronto Star, May 12, 2002

  • "Hana’s story is empowering kids to believe they can change the future and that through their actions they can have a powerfully positive force in the world to make it a safer and happier place." -American Israelite, January 22, 2004

  • "Part of the difficulty for today’s children reading about the Holocaust is that, for most of them, it was another place, another time, and therefore another world – remote and unreal. The other problem, of course, is that it is an overwhelmingly tragic story. However, this book deftly and imaginatively overcomes these difficulties. It brings the story into the present, it makes Hana’s world as familiar as our own, and it tells the uplifting story of how the details of her life were uncovered by a determined Japanese woman." -Melbourne's Child, January 8, 2003

  • "It is both achingly sad and joyful as this little girl tries her best to stay bright and happy in the midst of brutality. Hana’s Suitcase fits an incredible range of emotions into its 112 pages. Hana dreamed of becoming a teacher. This book shows that, finally, she did. Today, her story teaches children throughout Japan about the Holocaust and humanity." -Bendigo Advertiser, September 8, 2003

  • "Such a simple little book and yet so powerful. This true story will touch the hearts of young and old – and rather than be just unbearably sad it also opens a window of hope for out next generation – hope that all the cultures live in peace." -Fraser Coast Chronicle, July 19, 2003

  • "Although it is suitable for a wide range of ages, it is particularly valuable for children who want to learn more about the Holocaust. Levine’s simple style of writing and then beautiful photos and reproductions of Hana’s drawings encourage readers to connect with Hana as a real human being rather than just another Holocaust statistic. In a way that would otherwise never have been possible, Hana has become the teacher she always dreamt of being." -Launceston Examiner, August 2, 2003


Reading Levels

Grade: 5/6

Guided Reading Level: Y

Find books by:


Search Books

by Author/Illustrator

by New Releases by Audience by Series by Genre by Special Interests by Curriculum Links by Academic Subject