Hana's Suitcase on Stage

Hana's Suitcase on Stage


Original Story by Karen Levine and Play by Emil Sher


Since its publication in 2002, the story of Hana Brady, a little girl who wanted to become a teacher, has captured hearts and minds of schoolchildren and adults around the world. Since its 2006 world stage premiere in Toronto, Hana's story has become even more alive.

Hana's Suitcase On Stage is a unique volume that combines the story and images of the original book with the complete script of the award-winning writer Emil Sher's theatrical adaptation. Since 2006 the play has been staged in cities in Canada, the US, and Japan.

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.

A Holocaust Remembrance Book for Young Readers

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About the Author

Karen Levine is a prizewinning producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio. Karen has won awards for her radio work, including two Peabody Awards - the Oscars of radio. She originally produced Hana’s Suitcase as a radio documentary before making it into a book. Though she travels widely to talk about the book, she makes her home in Toronto with her partner and her son.

About the Author

Emil Sher’s works include stage plays, screenplays, radio dramas and essays. Following its world premiere at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre (Toronto), Emil’s adaptation of Hana’s Suitcase toured Canada twice, has been staged in St. Louis (U.S. premiere) Chicago, Lexington and Milwaukee and will be staged in Israel in 2010. In 2005, Emil created Breadbox Theatre, designed especially to engage younger students from Kindergarten to Grade 2.

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Product Information

  • Release: February 27, 2006

  • $18.95 Paperback

  • 172 Pages

  • 7.5 x 9

  • Children’s Nonfiction / Drama

  • Ages 9-18 / Grades 4-12

  • Guided Reading: Y

  • ISBN: 9781897187050


  • Character Education
    > Prejudice & Tolerance

  • The Arts
    > Drama & Plays

  • History & Social Studies
    > War & Conflict

  • Holocaust Studies

Praise for Hana's Suitcase on Stage

"This volume will serve as one of the most effective teaching models for Holocaust curriculums available." - School Library Journal

"... a strong testament to the forces that bring people together: imagination, curiosity and hope." - NOW Magazine

"Writer Emil Sher has adapted the story faithfully for the stage." - Toronto Star

"A delicate and moving introduction to Holocaust themes for children." - The Globe and Mail

"Sher’s interpretation of the story will lead to much interesting discussion with the many fans of Levine’s book." - Resource Links

"Sher's contribution, Hana's Suitcase on Stage, is a simply written, but powerful, teaching tool for middle and even high school students... Students will be able to present this play either as a full stage production or as reader's theatre. Teachers can use it as part of a teaching unit on racism, World War II, the Holocaust or Remembrance Day. Highly Recommended." - CM: Canadian Review of Materials 4/4 Starred Review