By Karen Levine
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.
Hana's Suitcase has become an international phenomenon, with rights having been sold 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. In 2012, a 10th Anniversary Edition of Hana's Suitcase was released, featuring 60 pages in bonus material.
About the Author
Karen Levine is a prizewinning producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Karen has won awards for her CBC radio work, including two Peabody Awards - the Oscars of radio. She originally produced Hana’s Suitcase as a radio documentary before writing the book. Though she travels widely to talk about Hana's Suitcase, she makes her home in Toronto with her partner and her son.
Get the E-book
- Release: August 7, 2002
- $16.95 Paperback
- $24.95 Paperback with Audio CD
- 120 Pages
- 7.5 x 9
- Children’s Nonfiction
- Ages 9-13 / Grades 4-8
- Guided Reading: Y
- ISBN: 9781896764559 (PB)
- ISBN: 9781896764610 (PB + CD)
- Character Education
> Prejudice & Tolerance
- Language Arts
- History & Social Studies
> War & Conflict
- Holocaust Studies
Resources for Hana's Suitcase
- Learn more about Hana's Suitcase and Hana's brother George Brady at www.hanassuitcase.ca
- Explore the Interactive Online Documentary Inside Hana's Suitcase
- Keep up with Fumiko Ishioka and the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center on Facebook
- Find educational resources from the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre
- Download the free ESL Teacher's Guide for Hana's Suitcase
Awards for Hana's Suitcase
- Canadian Library Association "Book of the Year for Children"
- The Ultimate Silver Birch Award - Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading
- Golden Oak Award - Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading
- Flora Steiglitz Straus Award for Non-Fiction - Bank Street College's Children's Book Committee
- Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award
- IODE Violet Downey Book Award
- Information Book Award - Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada
- Jewish Book Council Award - Special Recognition
- Red Cedar Nonfiction Award (B.C.'s Young Readers' Choice Award)
- Rocky Mountain Book Award (Alberta Children's Choice Award)
- Sydney Taylor Book Award - for Older Readers
- Torgi Literary Award - Canadian National Institute of the Blind
- UNICEF Paolo Ungari Literary Award (Italy)
- Yad Vashem Prize for Children's Holocaust Literature
Finalist / Commended:
- American Library Association's Notable Children's Books for Middle Readers
- Canadian Jewish Book Award - Children's Literature - Finalist
- Governor General's Award for Young People's Literature (Text) - Finalist
- IBBY Canada Honour List
- International Reading Association's Children's Book Award - Notable Book (Intermediate Non-fiction)
- International Reading Association - Notable Books for a Global Society
- Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Nonfiction - Honour Book
- One of CBC's Top 100 Young Adults Books That Make You Proud to Be Canadian
- Quill & Quire's Best Books of 2002
- ... and more!
Praise for Hana's Suitcase
"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
"Switching between the two narratives, Levine manages to address the book’s serious themes in a child-friendly manner, while never minimizing the inherent tragedy of the story." - The National Post
"Hana’s story is, tragically, one of millions; Fumiko’s is unique. Together, they will captivate children, reduce them to tears, and teach them invaluable lessons. Hana’s Suitcase should be required reading." - Quill & Quire
"Skillfully, and with great sensitivity, Levine weaves together the two stories, alternating that of a young life shattered in increments and that of Fumiko Ishioka’s relentless search for answers." - The Globe and Mail
"[George] 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 Suitcase shows how facts and objects can be put together to honour its subject in a very personal and loving way. Highly recommended." - Toronto Star
"The Holocaust is a difficult topic to discuss with children, but Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine is an excellent way for parents and teachers to introduce this tough subject to children age 10 and up. The book is to be shared and discussed—readers will need to talk about the issues raised in the story. Hana's Suitcase reveals not only the story of Hana Brady's short life and the life of her brother who survived, but it also shows the impact the suitcase has had on the children of Small Wings in Japan. The suitcase is being used in Japan to teach children tolerance, respect and compassion. The book does the same for readers in Canada." - Canadian Living