Maurice and His Dictionary

Cary Fagan

Enzo Lord Mariano

This is the story of one refugee family’s harrowing journey, based on author Cary Fagan’s own family history. The graphic novel follows a young Jewish boy, Maurice, and his family as they flee their home in Belgium during the Second World War. They travel by train to Paris, through Spain to Portugal, and finally across the ocean to Jamaica, where they settle in an internment camp.

All the while, Maurice is intent on continuing his education and growing up to be a lawyer. He overcomes obstacles to find a professor to study with, works toward a high school diploma while in the camp, and is ultimately accepted to university in Canada. His English dictionary becomes a beloved tool and beacon of hope through the danger and turmoil of the family’s migration.

Moments of lightness and humor balance the darkness in this powerful story of one refugee family’s courage and resilience, and of the dictionary that came to represent their freedom.Cary Fagan, Enzo Lord Mariano
Regular price $18.95
Regular price Sale price $18.95

SKU: 204969n0nn1nWWW | ISBN: 9781771473231

"A little bit of luck, the kindness of strangers, and a teenage boy’s perseverance drive this elegant story set during the Holocaust... Maurice’s journey teaches readers to never give up." - Kirkus Reviews

"A moving account in which a child’s thirst for knowledge is a source of hope against a dismal, war-torn backdrop... the book also maintains the humor and joy that come from a strong, caring support system." - Foreword Reviews

"[The] narrative emphasizes hope amid ceaseless uncertainty, with small acts of kindness... Succinct and sincere; another ­accessible middle grade window into World War II." - School Library Journal

"Based on Fagan’s grandfather’s experiences, the anecdotal-feeling narration straightforwardly conveys the family’s fear, uncertainty, determination, and love." - Publishers Weekly

"The graphic-novel format is well suited to this emotionally layered survivor’s account... Expertly paced panels simultaneously convey the gripping, close-up immediacy of the family’s experiences." - Quill & Quire

"An important story, well told and depicted." - Canadian Review of Materials

"There is a del­i­cate bal­ance between real­is­ti­cal­ly depict­ing the worst of human nature and empha­siz­ing people’s abil­i­ty to adapt and sur­vive... Mau­rice and His Dic­tio­nary is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed." - Jewish Book Council

"An especially recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library collections." - Midwest Book Review

A Junior Library Guild Selection, 2020

A Loan Stars Jr. Pick for October/November, 2020

A USBBY Outstanding International Books List selection, 2021

Rocky Mountain Book Award, 2022

Best Books for Kids and Teens (starred selection), 2021

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Publication date

October 15, 2020

Number of pages



Social Studies

Interest age

From 8 to 12