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Seeking Refuge Book Cover


November 2016, published by Tradewind Books.

Illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker sequel to the Graphic novel, GOOD- BYE MARIANNE, Tundra books. SEEKING REFUGE is loosely based on the play Remember Me, Playwrights Guild of Canada and the novel of the same name, Tundra books.

Western Canadian Jewish Berkowitz Award for children and Youth, 2018.

It is December, 2, 1938, the first Kindertransport arrives in England from Berlin. On board the Rescue train are over two hundred children at risk from the Nazis. Eleven year old Marianne Kohn is amongst them. It is twenty four hours since she said good-bye to her mother, she does not know if she will ever see her again. Her snobbish English foster mother, is unsympathetic to the young foreigner. World War 2 breaks out in September, 1939, and Marianne is evacuated to South Wales. She must cope with new problems both in and out of school. However her hope and resilience is finally rewarded. Then as today the refugee experience takes its toll on those who flee their homes because of persecution.

Awarded the 2017, VINE Award presented by the Koffler Centre, Toronto, Ontario, For Jewish literature for Children and Young Adults. The Award is given by Glowinsky Family Foundation.

“Author and illustrator show their collaborative finesse in a wonderfully rendered marriage between text and art. A book that invites close reading, this will spark interest in the plight of all refugees.” Starred Review, Kirkus Magazine

“What a collaboration in this lovely and important book! The illustrations suit the dark story so well. It’s the details of Marianne’s journey that bring it to life for me. Not having her own name, the way she is shifted around with people speaking to her in English and then in Welsh, the longing for her mother, all very poignant and real.” From Beryl Young, author of: CHARLIE, A Home Child’s Life in Canada, Key Porter Books.

“Congratulations on your beautiful graphic novel- it is subtle, elegant and touching.” Professor Judith Saltman, co author with Gail Edwards, of Picturing Canada-A History of Canadian Children’s Illustrated Books and Publishing, University of Toronto Press, 2010

Touched By Fire book cover

Touched By Fire,

September 2013, published by Tundra Books.

A young Russian, Jewish girl, joins her immigrant father in New York. She finds work at the Triangle Waist Company. In 1911, she and hundreds of other garment workers are caught in a deadly fire that engulfs the factory.

Touched by fire was named a notable book for older readers by the Sidney Taylor Books Awards, January, 2014 and an Honour Book by USBBY ( the International US Best Books for Young People)

Escape from Berlin book cover

Escape From Berlin,

November 2013, published by Tundra Books.

December 2013 marks the 75th Anniversary of the Kindertransport. This omnibus edition contains all three books of the ‘Marianne Stories.

Many books have been written about the Kindertransport but none have related as complete a history of the experience as has this publication that combines the three novels in one volume.... This book will be very sought after.” Starred review by Monica Weiss Posner, Jewish Book Council.

No Moon Book Cover


April 2010 published by Tundra Books

Fourteen year old Louisa Garderner works as a nursemaid to young daughters of a titled family in London. Despite being bullied by stern Nanny Mackintocsh she is happy in her work.

However Louisa is haunted by the memory of her toddler brother’s death, when she was five. She blames herself for his accidental drowning on a trip to the sea-side. Her fears come to pass when she is told that the family will be traveling on the Titanic on her maiden voyage to New York, in 1912. If she refuses to go, she will lose her employment and her chance of a better life. She makes her decision and must finally face her greatest fears on the voyage that changes lives forever.

NO MOON is shortlisted for the 2012 Rocky Mountain Book Award, chosen by Young Alberta Readers

“NO MOON is a captivating novel (ages 10-14) that uses the historical setting effectively to enhance the story without overwhelming it. Highly Recommended ****/4″ Karen Boyd University of Manitoba, Canadian Magazine.. May 21 2010

No Moon is featured in VOYA Magazine’s top shelf for Middle School Readers 2010 list. It is selected by a committee of professional librarians and teachers who share the titles with middle school students.

February 2011. Nina, Grade 8 said: this historical fiction book was really descriptive and interesting.

Munsch at Play Act 2 Book Cover

Munsch At Play ACT 2,

“A wonderful collection that kids and teachers are sure to enjoy” Robert Munsch

Eight more plays, including such favourites as “Pigs” and “I Have to Go” and “David’s Father”

No Pets Allowed Book Cover


Illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker, Tradewind Books, October 2010. Ages 7-9.

When Matthew moves from the country to Vancouver with his single mom, he has to leave his dog, Lucky, behind. Why? The sign on his building says: NO PETS ALLOWED. Matthew creates an invisible puppy, Fred. Together, Matthew and Fred search for a solution to reunite with Lucky.

This is an easy- to- read novel, perfect for students transitioning into reading chapter books. Each of the eleven chapters contain delightful illustrations by artist Kathryn Shoemaker… they include Matthew’s imaginary dog, Fred, thus immersing the readers into Matthew’s world.

No Pets Allowed touches on many themes for young readers-moving, adjusting to life changes, making new friends and loneliness. The relationships are highly believable and readable. The novel would be an asset for any home, elementary school, or public library. CM Volume 117. Number 21 Reviewed by, Dr. Kristen Ferguson, who teaches Language Arts at the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay, ON.

Munsch at Play Book Cover

Munsch at Play,

Plays by Irene N. Watts Original Stories by Robert Munsch illustrated by Michael Martchenko, Sami Suomaleinen and Suzanne Duranceau. published by Annick Press,2010

The plays which include The Paper Bag Princess and Stephanie’s Ponytail have been adapted for stage, classroom or backyard and include suggestions for presentation, casting, props and costumes.

MUNSCH AT PLAY has been selected as a starred selection in The Canadian Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids and Teens for 2011.

“I congratulate Irene on her work” Robert Munsch

“This volume is sure hit in schools and children’s libraries” reviewed by Anne-Frederique Champoux

“This text is highly recommended for classroom library as well as a school library collection” Resource Links

Clay Man Book Cover


a retelling by Irene N Watts, Illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker, Tundra Books 2009 For ages 9 and older

The 400 year old legend seen through the eyes of nine year old Jacob. One night Rabbi Loew’s son follows his father through the gates of the ghetto to the banks of the river Vlatava. There Jacob watches him gather clay from the river and mold the giant figure of a man. He brings him to life, using strange words and signs. Josef the Golem, who cannot speak but has special powers, lives with the family. For three years he walks the ghetto by day and night, keeping its inhabitants safe from those who would harm them. One Sabbath evening, Josef is bent on the destruction of all he has saved…

“…this book would make for a powerful read-aloud…” School Library Journal

“I’m dreaming of the right kid’s book” Selected by Susan Perren, the Globe & Mail for holiday reading.

“A moving, beautifully written story… I loved the book” Deborah Hodge, teacher and award winning author of The Kids Book of Canadian Immigration and Lily and the Mixed-Up Letters

* Nominated for the Sydney Taylor Notable Books for Teen Readers

* Selected for the 2009 North American Jewish Books Awards, for Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Good-Bye Marianne Illustrated Book Cover

GOOD-BYE MARIANNE The Graphic novel,

illustrated by Kathryn E. Shoemaker, Tundra books, 2008, Based on the original novel by the author. For ages 9-12 +

The place is Berlin, Germany, 1938, Hitler rules the country. It is a cold November, one week after the Night of the Broken Glass. 11 year old Marianne Kohn is expelled from school, her father is on the run from the Nazis and her mother fears for her daughter’s safety. The story of how ten thousand children at risk were saved by the Kindertransport.

* Selected by the Canadian Toy Testing Council for its Great Books of 2010

* Nominated for BC’s Chocolate Lily Award 2009-2010

* Nominated for the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize BC Book Prize 2009

* Our Choice 2008 Selection for the Children’s Book Centre Annual Guide

“Pencil drawings, speech balloons, and sound effects make the story more accessible to young children without sacrificing the powerful message…” We can all relate to the universal value of keeping children safe, even if it means doing the unthinkable – sending them away. Reviewed By Adrienne Fitch The Outlook on Books

“The particular appeal of Marianne’s story is that of the ordinary woes of childhood- loneliness, boredom, betrayal of a friend- are in the foreground. In its graphic novel incarnation, the story retains this familiarity and welcomes a new crop of readers. Shoemaker’s style is gentle, shaded and soft edged, she filters the horror thus allowing some access to this world to quite young children.” Review by Sarah Ellis, QUILL & QUIRE, August, 2008.

Illustration by Kathryn E. Shoemaker used with permission of Tundra Books 2008

When The Bough Breaks Book Cover


a novel set in the Great Depression, Tundra Books 2007.The companion book to Flower. For ages 9+

When her mother dies three days after Eddie is born, 12 year old Millie must take care of her father and young brothers. Who is the strange woman who appears in the small Ontario town? Why is she so interested in the baby? Will Millie manage to keep her promise to her Mother to hold the family together?

“Watts’ keen eye for period detail, her vivid characterization and her estimable heroine make this novel a very affecting one.” Review, Susan Perren, The Globe and Mail.

* Nominated for the Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award, 2009

* Nominated for the Manitoba Young Readers’ choice Award, 2009

Flower Book Cover


a novel set in Britain and Canada in both present and past, Tundra books 2005 For ages 10+

Twelve year old orphans, William and Lillie meet onboard ship bound for Canada and the promise of a better life. They, and many of the 100,000 Home children shipped from Britain between 1867 to 1967 endured unimaginable hardships. What is their connection to Katie, living with her own problems in the present day?

‘Welcome Rain’, the Korean Publishers, will translate Flower into Korean. This is the first foreign title in their children’s list.

“Flower is a journey of hope and a mystery… The characters are finely drawn, the story is irresistible…” Review from Marion Farrant, the Vancouver Sun.

* Voted by Quesnel, BC’s Young Readers, as the best Canadian Fiction Title, in The Red Cedar Awards. 2008/9

* Selected for OLA Best bets list of top ten Canadian Children’s books, 2005

* Short listed for B.C’s Chocolate Lily Award 2006/7

* LILLIE, a play based on William and Lillie’s story from FLOWER, won first Prize at the International Playwrights Forum, UNESCO, 2006, and premiered in Athens, Greece, March 2007.

A list of plays by Irene N. Watts may be obtained from Playwrights Guild of Canada, of which Irene is a Life member:

Tapestry of Hope Book Cover


Holocaust writing for Young People, compiled with Lillian Boraks-Nemetz, Tundra Books, 2003 For ages 11 +

Excerpts by Canadian writers include: Leonard Cohen, Claudia Cornwall, Kathy Kacer, Karen Levine, Jean Little, Carol Matas, Lillian Boraks- Nemetz, Mordecai Richler, Jason Sherman, Ellen Schwartz, Irene Watts, Eva Wiseman. Survivor statements introduce each section which reflects on Hiding, Selection, Ghetto, Exile and Resistance. Maps, a Time line and further reading are included.

“A major addition to Shoah literature…It is heartwarming, inspiring and memorable.” Review Donna Silverman, Ottowa Jewish Bulletin.

* The Yad Vashem Award in Holocaust Studies 2003

* B.C. Book Prize Honour Book, 2004

*Nominated for the Young Adult Canadian Library Award

Finding Sophie Book Cover


Tundra Books, 2002 For ages10+

The final book in the Trilogy about the Kindertransport reunites Marianne and Sophie, separated since their arrival in Britain. Set in the aftermath of the Second World War 1945, the children of the Kindertransport find out what happened to their families during six years of war. Sophie must adjust to who she is and where she belongs.

“Highly recommended” Canadian Materials, 2002

“Watts has captured the fear, pain and hope of children who lived through the experience…” Review the School Library Journal of New York

* A Geoffrey Bilson Honour Book 2003

* A Sydney Taylor Notable

* Nominated for the Canadian Library Children’s novel of the year, 2003

Remember Me Book Cover


a novel, Tundra Books 2000 A novel for ages 10+

The companion book to Good-bye Marianne; eleven year old Marianne Kohn has left Germany and arrived in England, one of ten thousand children who managed to escape Hitler. She knows no one, does not speak English and is homesick for her parents, not knowing when she will see them again. The outbreak of war leaves her even more alone.

“In this poignant and sometimes heartbreaking story, the author paints a wonderful portrait in words of a young girl whose life has been turned upside down.”

* Kids Pick of the list (Middle Reader) American Bookseller’s Association

* Starred selection Canadian Children’s Book Centre, “Our Choice”

* Jewish book Awards, The Isaac Frischwasser Memorial Award for Young Adult Fiction

*Winner of the Chocolate Lily Young Adult Novel Award, B.C. 2003

Good-Bye Marianne Book Cover


a novel Tundra Books, 1998 For ages 8-11

Marianne’s world is collapsing. Like other Jewish students she is expelled from school, her father is on the run from the Gestapo, and she and her family are rejected by friends and neighbours. When the Gestapo invade their home, Marianne’s mother realizes she can no longer keep her daughter safe. They must make a heartbreaking decision.

“Watts has created a powerful story…the strength of characterization is remarkable and the text, tersely and simply written is a poetic delight.” Professor Ron Jobe, Department of Language Education, UBC. Review The Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice

* Winner of the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical fiction for Young People 1999

* Jewish Book Awards, the Isaac Frischwasser Memorial Award for Young Adult fiction 1999

* A regional finalist, The Silver Birch Awards 1999

Good-bye Marianne is also a One Act Play, published by Scirocco Drama 1995 and Anchorage Press Inc. USA 1997

A Telling Time Book Cover Also with illustrations by Kathryn E. Shoemaker: Cover:


Tradewind Books, 2004 For ages 8+

The story of Purim told in three time frames: present day, ancient times and 1938. A Grandmother tells her granddaughter about hearing the Purim story as a child, in nazi occupied Vienna. The rabbi is interrupted in his retelling of Queen Esther by a group of soldiers arriving to arrest him. They remain, held spellbound by the story; miraculously they allow the rabbi and the children to leave in safety.

“The three narratives with that of Esther at the centre are woven into one tale of courage and of hope. The illustrations are outstanding in conveying mood and setting…jewel tones resembling tapestries used to tell the tale of Queen Esther.” Linda R. Silver, review Spring Issue Jewish Book World.

* Awarded A White Raven, Bologna 2006 by the international Jugend Bibliothek Munich.

Selected scenes and monologues have been anthologized in, 'Rattling the Stage' McGraw-Hill, Ryerson, 'She Speaks', Monologues for Women, edited by Judith Thompson, PCP, and 'Two for the Show', Scenes for Student Actors, edited by Brian Kennedy, PCP.