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The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis

The Earth is Singing

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February 2015 NewGen Book of the Month.

Of the many stories of the Holocaust, that of the Jews of Riga in Latvia is among the less well known. This book tells their story for young people, clearly and honestly, emphasising its importance and relevance to us all. Discovering that her great-grandmother had come from Riga in the early 1900s inspired Vanessa Curtis to find out what happened to those relatives who stayed: Jewish, their fate was the worst imaginable. She describes those terrible times through the eyes of 15 year old Hanna, a normal, lively teenager, with a handsome boyfriend. Readers will find it easy to identify with Hanna, which makes her account of what happens to her even more affecting. The story ends on a note of hope for Hanna, and is a powerful tribute to all the Latvian victims of the Nazis. ~ Andrea Reece

The Earth is Singing is Vanessa’s first historical novel, which she was inspired to write when she discovered her own Jewish Latvian heritage.

Vanessa says: 'The story of the Jews of Riga is not widely known. After finding out that my great-grandmother was born there, but came over to England at the turn of the twentieth century, I began to wonder what happened to the Jewish friends and relatives that she had left behind. I visited the Riga Ghetto Museum and saw photographs of many of the thousands of Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis in 1941. Their eyes seemed to be telling me to relate their story, so that is what I did. I am delighted that Usborne have given me the opportunity to bring this story to a wider audience.'

If you want to read more in this area then try Inflicted by Ria Frances.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Cara Mcilroy- 'An amazing book that I couldn't put down. It makes you think hard about what children had to endure just because they were Jews!' Read full review >
  • Amy Laws - 'This book is amazing, I really enjoyed it. The author really describes what it was like to live in a Nazi society, just before World War Two, as a Jew.' Read full review >
  • Louisa Cunliffe - 'A true treasure of a book that will stay with you long after you finish the final page...a must read.' Read full review >
  • Sophia Ufton - 'Wow, not many books leave me speechless but this did.' Read full review >
  • Farah Alam - 'Overall, this book was really good and, has made me interested in reading more of the author's work.' Read full review >
  • Edel Waugh - 'a remarkable well told story that both astonishes and is heartbreaking while being beautiful written...I recommend this book for any fans of Anne Frank. Unforgettable and touching!' Read full review >
  • Delilah Acworth - 'The writing was brilliant and terrible in equal measures, it presented such a painful subject in quite a soothing way before completely tearing the reader apart with its harsh realities. A definite recommendation.' Read full review >
  • Monisah Ali  - 'The Earth is Singing was a beautiful, empowering book with a storyline so powerful, it’s enough to make anyone emotional. It was so capturing, you won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough! Read full review >
  • Nia - 'Heartbreaking, emotional, stunning...This truly heart wrenching story was dealt with truth and respect, producing a stunning book that I strongly recommend everyone to read.'  Read full review >

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The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis

My name is Hanna. I am 15. I am Latvian. I live with my mother and grandmother. My father is missing, taken by the Russians. I have a boyfriend and I'm training to be a dancer. But none of that is important any more. Because the Nazis have arrived, and I am a Jew. And as far as they are concerned, that is all that matters. This is my story.

Before the war, fifteen-year-old Hanna used to spend her days attending the ballet school in Riga and daydreaming about her boyfriend Uldis. But now her father is missing, taken away by Soviet Forces and no one knows what lies ahead.
When the Nazis invade, they enforce bewildering and brutal new rules on the Jews of Riga, and Hanna must fight to keep what is left of her family together as they are commanded to move into the ghetto with 30,000 others. Faced with the prospect of losing her mother and grandmother forever, Hanna is pushed to her limits in a horrifying world where the smallest choices could mean life or death.

Take a virtual tour of the Riga Ghetto, find information about the Holocaust, Nazi Germany and the Second World War, and discover more about Judaism with Usborne Quicklinks. Go to and enter the keywords “The Earth is Singing”.


'Of the many stories of the Holocaust, that of the Jews of Riga in Latvia is among the less well known. This book tells their story for young people, clearly and honestly, emphasising its importance and relevance to us all. Readers will find it easy to identify with Hanna, which makes her account of what happens to her even more affecting... A powerful tribute to all the Latvian victims of the Nazis' - Lovereading4kids; 'A tragic, harrowing and deeply moving account of the Holocaust from the perspective of an ordinary girl' - The Bookseller; 'Unforgettable and touching' - Edel's Book and Beauty Blog; 'Touching, empowering, heart-breaking' - Twins Turn Pages; 'A stark and at times shocking and heart-breaking story that really communicates the horror of the Holocaust' - Reading Zone; 'Throughout this whole book I really felt like I could connect with the main character, Hanna, There were a few times when my heart clenched in fear for her and I smiled when she was happy' - Biblioteca Reviews'

About the Author

Vanessa Curtis's first children's book Zelah Green: Queen of Clean (Egmont) was shortlisted for the 2009 Waterstones Children's Book Prize. The sequel Zelah Green: One More Little Problem was released in July 2010. Vanessa is also a freelance book reviewer and the author of three books on Virginia Woolf. She co-edits The Virginia Woolf Bulletin, the magazine of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain and, as a trained pianist, also teaches the piano part-time. She works as a reader for a literary consultancy. Vanessa lives near Chichester harbour, West Sussex. Vist Vanessa's website at

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Book Info

Publication date

27th January 2015


Vanessa Curtis

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Usborne Publishing Ltd


336 pages


NewGen - YA Fiction
Books of the Month
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Historical fiction (Children's / Teenage)
Social issues: religious issues (Children's / Teenage)



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