Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Aram's Choice

Aram's Choice
by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Illustrated by Muriel Wood
Fitzhenry & Whiteside Canada, 2006
$18.95 hardcover
$10.95 paperback

From the New Beginnings series, comes Aram's Choice, a story that follows the life of a boy who loses his family in the Armenian genocide in Turkey and is exiled in Greece. The book follows Aram while he travels to Canada with forty-seven other Armenian boys in what was Canada's first international humanitarian effort.
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch first heard about the Armenian Genocide seventeen years ago while doing research for a magazine article about the first "Georgetown Boys" -- a group of 47 Armenian orphans who were rescued by Canada in 1923 and were housed and schooled at a farm in Georgetown, Ontario.
After interviewing the son of a "Georgetown Boy," Marsha was left with more questions than answers. For example, why were all of the rescued orphans male? Why were they all between the ages of eight and twelve? What happened to their parents? What happened to their sisters?
After years of research, Marsha was able to write Aram's Choice. Based on true events, this book gives children a chance to learn about effects of genocide through one that the Turkish government has long denied ever happened.
Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch is the author of many books for children, including Silver Threads and Enough as well as her YA novels, The Hunger and Nobody's Child, which was nominated for the Red Maple Award, the Alberta Rocky Mountain Book Award, and the B.C. Stellar Award.
Muriel Wood has been illustrating books for children since 1964, including the Canadian classic, The Olden Days Coat written by Margaret Laurence. Other books that she has illustrated include Old Bird, and the first two titles from the New Beginnings series, Lizzie's Storm and Scared Sarah.

"What makes this story unique is the inclusion of authentic details provided by a survivor of the 'Georgetown Boys,' Kevork Kevorkian. His vivid memories of diving at night around an undersea wreck in Corfu harbour, of a boy falling out the window of their train in Canada, and of the boys collecting all their precious quarters to help their gym teacher make this an intriguing account." --Winnipeg Free Press
"This easy chapter book (Grades 2 to 4) tells the story of a group of Armenian refugee boys who made the journey from Corfu, Greece, to Georgetown, Canada, after the Armenian genocide in the early 1900s. The story, based on the experiences of one of these boys, describes a trip of sadness, anxiety, and hope from a child's point of view. The actual genocide is briefly and gently explained in a historical note at the end. Realistic color illustrations on most pages, some of them spreads, add authenticity to the narrative. Covering an incident little known in the United States, this work would be of particular interest in areas where Armenian immigrants live, but it could also underline a general discussion of humanitarianism." --School Library Journal
"This chapter book is replete with engaging and lively characters who bring this little-known slice of history alive for junior readers"--Brantford Expositor
"Readers will be intrigued by the delightful descriptions of the boys' introduction to new experiences in Canada. The hungry children, used to nondescript stews, savour new foods like bananas, spearmint chewing gum and milk and buttered buns."--Canadian Materials
"(Grade 3 to 5) Twelve-year-old Aram lives in an orphanage in Greece. His grandmother, who is too poor to keep him, brought him out of Turkey during the Armenian genocide, which claimed the lives of other family members. Along with other boys chosen to emigrate to Canada, Aram travels by cargo ship, ocean liner, and train to his new home, a farm in rural Ontario. Though missing his grandmother, Aram tries to keep the younger boys out of trouble and enjoys many new experiences, such as eating his first banana. Skrypuch based her story on the life of an Armenian orphan brought to Canada in 1923. With at least one small color illustration on nearly every double-page spread, this nicely designed chapter book from the publisher's New Beginnings series offers a bit of information woven seamlessly into the fiction. A glossary, a historical note, and lists of recommended books, films, and Internet sites round out the book." --Booklist


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