Gabriola chutzpah propels Tucson tale
New imprint garners National Jewish Award nomination.
January 20th, 2015
Although Manitoban Carol Matas has more than forty titles, she turned to her friend Morri Mostow on Gabriola Island to produce Tucson Jo.
Although Carol Matas had a track record for writing award-winning stories pertaining to Jews and the holocaust for children and young adults, mainstream commercial publishers rejected her manuscript for a book inspired by the life and times of the first Jewish mayor of Tucson named Charles Strauss. That’s when she turned to former Reader’s Digest writer Morri Mostow to publish her novel for middle grade readers, Tucson Jo (Fictive Press, 2014), set in the Territory of Arizona in 1882.
Mostow’s fledgling imprint for e-books operates from Gabriola Island in B.C.
“Morri offered to publish the book because she believed in it and loved the story,” Matas has recalled. “For me, choosing to publish with Fictive Press was a huge departure, since Fictive is a small digital print-on-demand publisher and therefore that meant an entirely new business model for me. Once we’d agreed on a contract and made it all official, we went to work. Morri pushed me on some story points—and here I thought I might get off easy because she was my friend but it was quite the opposite. That’s when I suddenly rewrote the entire back half of the book and it all came together. Or so we thought. Morri, of course, did the heavy lifting re the publishing, the cover, the review mailings, etc. But all decisions were made together. When we finally saw the final version we were really happy with the result, although we were unsure how this experiment would work out.”
Much to the surprise and delight of both Matas and Mostow, Matas subsequently became the only Canadian author nominated in the category for Children’s and Young Adult Literature for the 2014 National Jewish Book Awards in its 64th year of competitions. The National Jewish Book Awards are sponsored by the Jewish Book Council, based in New York City. It is touted as the longest-running program of its kind in North America.
Loosely based on the life of Charles Stauss, the historical novel sees the world through eyes of a pioneering mayor’s daughter, fourteen-year-old Josephine Fiedler. She resents her father for uprooting their family and taking them to the wilds of Arizona to preserve his health. It is only when her father’s bid for the mayorality of Tucson results in anti-Semitic attacks that she begins to fully appreciate what it means to be a Jew. Her best friend’s father is also running for mayor. She begins to understand her father, as both a man and a Jew, and realizes her own relatively peevish position as someone missing Boston is secondary to the maintenance of social ideals. “Without law, without order,” her father tells her, “there is no freedom.”
Born in Winnipeg in 1949, Carol Matas received her B.A. (English) from the University of Western Ontario and she is a graduate of the Actor’s Lab in London, England. She has been a Creative Writing instructor for the Continuing Education Division of the University of Winnipeg.
Carol Matas’ literary awards include the 2014 Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award in the youth category and a 2014 Sydney Taylor Honor Award for Older Readers (from the Association of Jewish Libraries), both for Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz (Scholastic Canada). Her books have been published all over the world in more than a dozen languages, and have been best-sellers in Japan, Germany and Spain.
Tucson Jo is Matas’ 45th book. It’s the seventh title from Mostow’s digital publishing imprint, founded in 2011.
Mostow and Matas will now launch a new, adult thriller series to be set in California, starting with Palms Springs Paranormal slated for release in autumn of 2015.
Fictive Press is a division of BizNet Communications, a corporate and marketing communications firm that Mostow and her husband, Doug Long, have been running since the early 1980s, first in Quebec and, since 2005, on Gabriola Island, BC. Visit
FictivePress.com for info.
B.C. publisher and editor Morri Mostow began her career more than 35 years ago as a Reader’s Digest (Canada) researcher/writer. Her byline has appeared in more than a dozen articles in its English and French editions. She specializes in marketing and corporate communications, producing Web content, newsletters, employee communications, promotional literature, direct mail, press materials, publicity, executive speeches and annual reports. Fully bilingual, she also translates and adapts French texts into English.
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The Fusion Factor. Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1986. Published in Danish as Den Sorte Varevogn, Copenhagen: Forum, 1988. French Publication, Paris: Pocket, 1997. Spanish Edition, Spain: Ediciones S.M., 1998. Reissued as It’s Up to Us. Toronto: Stoddard, 1991.
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Lisa. Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1987. Published in the U.S. as Lisa’s War. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1989. Published in Spain by Ediciones B: Barcelona, 1989. Paris, France: Poshe/Jeunesse, Hachette, 1991. Stockholm, Sweden: Tidens, 1991. Mass market, New York and Toronto: Scholastic.
—The Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young Readers, 1988.
—New York Times Book Review, Notable Book, Dec 1989.
—Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Our Choice”, Memorable Books for young People.
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Jesper. Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1989. Published in the U.S. as Code Name Kris, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons: 1990. Also, published in Spain by Edebe, 1991. Mass market, New York and Toronto: Scholastic.
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—Code Name Kris, Notable 1990 Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies.
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Adventure in Legoland. New York and Toronto: Scholastic, book club 1991, trade 1992.
The Race. Toronto: Harper Collins, 1991.
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Sworn Enemies. New York: Bantam, 1993; Toronto: Harper Collins, 1993.
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—Sydney Taylor Award, 1993.
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Safari Adventure in Legoland. New York and Toronto: Scholastic, 1993.
Daniel’s Story. New York and Toronto: Scholastic, 1993. Commissioned by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.
—Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, 1993.
—Children’s Book Centre, Our Choice, 1993.
—Silver Birch Award, 1994, Ontario Readers’ Choice award.
—Finalist 1993 Ruth Schwartz Award.
—Mr. Christie Honour Book, 1993.
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—New York Public Library, 1994 Book for the Teen Age.
The Lost Locket. Toronto: Scholastic, 1994.
The Burning Time. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell; Toronto: Harper Collins, 1994.
—Finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award, 1994.
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Of Two Minds. With Perry Nodelman, Winnipeg: Bain & Cox, 1994; New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. Mass market, New York & Toronto: Scholastic, 1998. Japan, 1997. Republished by Starburst Digital Rights International, 2013.
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The Primrose Path. Winnipeg: Bain & Cox, 1995.
—Finalist for Manitoba Book of the Year, 1995.
—Outstanding Book Of The Year, Children’s Book Centre, 1996.
—Finalist Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award, 1997.
After the War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996; Scholastic Canada, 1996. Mass market, New York: Alladin, 1998; Scholastic Canada, 1998. Bulut Yay?nlar?, Turkey, 2001.
—New York Public Library, 1997 Book for the Teen Age.
—Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies for 1997, by National Council for Social Studies and the Children’s Book Council.
—ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults, 1996.
—ALA, Best Book of the Year for Young Adults, 1996.
—Finalist Best Book of the Year, McNally Robinson Book Award, 1996.
—Finalist Best Book of the Year for Children, McNally Robinson Book Award, 1996.
—Finalist Ruth Shwartz Award, 1996.
—Jewish Book Award, 1996.
—Mr. Christie Honour Book, 1996.
—Junior Library Guild pick, 1996.
—Booklist, Editor’s Choice, 1996.
—Resource Links, The Best Of List, 1997.
—South Carolina Junior Book Award nominee, 1998-1999.
—O.L.A. Red Maple Readers Choice Award, 1998.
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More Minds. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Mass market, New York & Toronto: Scholastic, 1998. Japan, 1998.
The Freak. Canada: Key Porter, 1997.
The Garden. Simon & Schuster, 1997, Scholastic Canada, 1997. Mass market, New York: Alladin, 1998; Scholastic Canada, 1998.
—Junior Library Guild pick, 1997.
—Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies for 1998, NCSS and Children’s Book Council.
—New York Public Library, Books for the Teen Age, 1998.
—1998 Rachel Bessin/Isaac Frischwasser Memorial Award for Y.A. Fiction (Jewish Book Award).
Telling. Canada: Key Porter, 1998. Denmark: Gyldendal, 1997.
Greater than Angels. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. Scholastic Canada, 1998. Mon Bel Oranger, France 1999. Bulut Yay?nlar?, Turkey, 1999. Re-published by Scholastic Canada in 2013.
—Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies for 1999, NCSS and Children’s Book Council.
—Finalist, Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction, 1999.
Out Of Their Minds. Simon and Schuster: New York, 1998. Distican Canada, 1998. Japan, 2000.
Cloning Miranda Scholastic Canada, 1999. Denmark, 2001, Germany, 2001, Indonesia, 2003, Russia, 2004, Bulgaria, 2005; Sweden, Finland, Norway, 2012.
In My Enemy’s House. Simon & Schuster: New York, 1999. Scholastic Canada ,1999 & 2013. Aladdin, 2001.
—Finalist, McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award for young people.
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Meeting Of Minds, Simon & Schuster: New York, 1999. Distican Canada, 1999. Japan, 2001.
Rebecca, Scholastic Canada, Fall 2000.
—Finalist, Manitoba Book for Young Readers, 2001.
—Finalist, Margaret McWilliams Award, Manitoba Historical society.
—Finalist, Hackmatack, Children’s Choice Award.
—Finalist, Manitoba Readers Choice Award.
Sparks Fly Upwards. Clarion, New York, Spring 2001.
—Judy Lopez Award, honour book, California library award.
The War Within. Simon & Schuster: New York, 2001, Scholastic Canada.
—Books For the Teen Age , New York Public Library, 2001.
—Sydney Taylor Honour Book, 2001.
—Geoffrey Bilson Honour Book, 2001.
—Finalist, McNally Robinson Book for Young People, 2001.
—The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, 2002.
—Finalist, Lamplighter Award, 2003/2004.
The Second Clone. Scholastic, Canada, Fall 2001.
—Our Choice, The Canadian Children’s Book Centre, 03.
Footsteps in the Snow, Dear Canada, Scholastic, Canada, Spring 2001.
—Finalist, Silver Birch Award.
—The Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Our Choice, starred for outstanding merit, 03.
—Finalist, McNally Robinson Book for Young Readers.
—Margaret McWilliams Award, Manitoba Historical Society.
Gotcha! Rosie In New York City. Simon & Schuster, Aladdin, NY, Key Porter, Toronto, Spring 2003.
—Finalist, McNally Robinson Book For Young People.
Play Ball! Rosie in Chicago. Simon & Schuster, Aladdin, NY, Key Porter, Toronto, Fall 2003.
—Finalist, McNally Robinson Book For young People.
—Finalist, Geoffrey Bilson Award.
Action! Rosie in L.A. Simon & Schuster, Aladdin, NY, Key Porter, Toronto, Spring, 2004.
—Notable Children’s Books Of Jewish Content by the Association of Jewish Libraries, 2004.
—Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award, finalist, 2005.
The Dark Clone. Scholastic Canada, Spring 2005.
Turned Away, The World War 11 Diary of Devorah Bernstein, Dear Canada. Scholastic Canada, Fall 2005.
—Finalist, McNally Robinson Book for Young Readers Award.
—Margaret McWilliams Award, Manitoba Historical Society.
—Manitoba Young Readers Award, short list.
—Finalist, Geoffrey Bilson Award, 2006.
—Children’s Book Centre Our Choice, starred for outstanding merit.
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—Frances and Samuel Stein Memorial Prize in Youth Literature, 07.
Past Crimes. fall 2006, Key Porter.
—Children’s Book Centre Our Choice pick.
—Finalist, Stellar Award (B.C. Teen Reader’s Choice Award),2008.
The Whirlwind. spring 2007, Orca Book Canada.
—Sydney Taylor Notable Book, for older readers, 2007.
—Finalist, McNally Robinson Book For Young People, 2008.
—Finalist, Stellar Award (B.C. Teen Reader’s Choice Award), 2009
Reissued: The Freak (Book 1 of The Freak Series), fall 2007 Key Porter Books.
—Sydney Taylor Notable Book, 2008
The Freak: Visions (Book 2 of The Freak Series), fall 2007, Key Porter Books.
—MRCA nominee, Manitoba Reader’s Choice Award, 2008.
—Finalist, Stellar Award (B.C. Teen Reader’s Choice Award), 2009.
The Ghosthunters 1: The Proof That Ghosts Exist (Book 1 of The Ghosthunters trilogy) spring 2008, Key Porter Books, with Perry Nodelman.
The Freak: Far (Book 3 of The Freak Series), fall 2008, Key Porter Books.
The Ghosthunters 2: The Curse of the Evening Eye (Book 2 of The Ghosthunters trilogy) spring 2009, Key Porter Books, with Perry Nodelman.
Tales of a Reluctant Psychic, fall 2009, Key Porter Books.
The Ghosthunters 3: The Hunt For The Haunted Elephant (Book 3 of The Ghosthunters trilogy), spring, 2010, Key Porter BooksTwith Perry Nodelman.
The Edge of When, fall 2011, Fitzhenry & Whiteside.
Behind Enemy Lines, World War II, Sam Frederiksen, Nazi-Occupied Europe, 1944, I Am Canada, February 2012, Scholastic Canada.
—Chosen as a “best book” in Junior and Intermediate Fiction for Tweens Ages 8 -14, in the Best Books for Kids & Teens: Fall Edition 2012, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
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Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz, Dear Canada, February 2013, Scholastic Canada.
— 2014 Helen & Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Boook Award for Young People
—A Sydney Taylor Honor Book Selection for 2014
—”Highly recommended” by CM Magazine.
—A “BEST BOOKS FOR KIDS AND TEENS” pick for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Fall 2013 edition of Best Books For Kids and Teens
When I Die: A meditation on death for children & their families (Photography by Bonnie Brask), 2013, Fictive Press.
Tucson Jo, 2014, Fictive Press.
—”Recommended” by CM: Canadian Review of Materials
—2014 NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARDS FINALIST in the Children’s and Young Adult Literature category
Lisa. Adapted from the novel with Per Brask. Produced by Prairie Theatre Exchange, 1991. Geordie Productions, Montreal, 1994. Golden Horse Shoe, Toronto, 1994.
The Escape. Commissioned by the Winnipeg Jewish Theater. Produced April 1993. Sworn Enemies, adapted from the novel, reading at the Jewish Repertory Theater, New York, 1994.
Sworn Enemies. Adapted from the novel, reading at the Jewish Repertory Theater, New York, 1994.
Telling. Adapted for radio. Broadcast by CBC Manitoba, October, 1994,
Jesper. Co-written with Per Brask.