Shayna's Shadows

Shayna's Shadows by Paul Philip Brown

Calling people names:

Is it harmless fun?

Or is it a dangerous first step towards bigotry?

Shayna's arrival at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Junior High School begins well until her Jewishness attracts the wrong kind of attention. Gilbert and his friends seem to be lurking everywhere, and it doesn't look as though they'll ever leave her alone.

From Yorkdale Shopping Centre to the underground city beneath Toronto, from SkyDome to the Young People's Theatre, Shayna struggles to find the courage to confront her tormentors before their hurtful prejudices overwhelm her.


Sample Chapter

"She's terrific, Shayna. Always smiling. I've never once heard Mrs. Fraser raise her voice to anybody. Why do you think I wanted back into her class this year? She's been helping me with my homework, and, oh, you should have seen that history project I did last year. It was like the before and after ads you see in the paper for those weight loss places. What a difference! You wouldn't know it was the same project after Mrs. Fraser got her hands on it."

This was too good to be true, thought Shayna. "Maybe it's going to work out after all." Oops. That had slipped out.

"What did you say?" asked Jessica.

"Oh, nothing. I was just thinking out loud. When does home room class start?"

"Now. We'd better get back."

There were now about ten or so other kids milling around in the classroom. As Shayna and Jessica came in, they all turned toward them. Silence enveloped the room as if a sudden gust of wind had torn all sound away. Jessica's voice snapped the spell as she introduced Shayna around. Mrs. Fraser asked the class to take their seats for the opening exercises. Everyone was so friendly that Shayna was completely relaxed by the time they had to go to their first period class. That yellow piece of paper that Mrs. Fraser had given her turned out to be her timetable. Jessica said she'd go over it with Shayna at lunch, but for now, all she had to do was follow Jessica. Today's reading classes were in the afternoon. Period one was family studies.

"Family studies and history are the only subjects we've got together besides reading, Shayna. I already checked." Jessica led the way. The family studies room was double size, with the kitchen arranged at one end of the room and the sewing machines at the other end. Shayna sat down next to Jessica at a table in the cooking section of the room.

Several girls came over to see who the new kid was. Jessica introduced them to Shayna.

The teacher, Mrs. Simpson, had not yet arrived. A tall girl with an athletic build named Darla Williams asked Shayna, "What school are you from?"

Self-conscious about telling them that she was there because of her reading problems, and unsure of how these kids felt toward Jews, Shayna hesitated, her eyes cast downward. Should she tell them that she'd come from a Jewish day school? Maybe they'd dislike her just for being Jewish. Maybe they thought Jews were all rich snobs. Lots of people had that mistaken idea. She'd learned that in class discussions at Solomon.

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