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Marja's Skis

Written by Jean E. Pendziwol

Illustrated by Jirina Marton

  • 32 Pages
  • 9780888996749
  • 10.880" x 8.250"
  • Reading age from 4 to 8
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / Canada / Post-Confederation (1867-)
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Sports & Recreation / Winter Sports
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Social Situations / Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance


Publication Date September 01, 2007

Finalist for the Governor General's Award: Children's Illustration and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award

Marja admires her big, brave older sister and is waiting until she too can ski and go to school. When Marja turns seven she is finally ready. Her father tells her, When you are strong inside, you can do anything. And despite her mother's objections, she skis off to school on her own.

It's hard to stay true to her father though when he dies in a logging accident, and the family must struggle to survive. But Marja persists, skiing to school each day, learning her sums and letters and how to speak English, just as her father had always wanted. Then one sunny spring afternoon as she is skiing home alone, Marja's new-found strength is put to the test.

Evocative prose and beautiful illustrations bring this moving tale, set in a 19th-century Canadian logging town, to life.

Short-listed for the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award 2007

Short-listed for the Governor General's Literary Awards: Illustration 2007

Selected for the CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens 2008 2008


Jean E. Pendziwol
Jean E. Pendziwol is the author of Marja's Skis, which she wrote after hearing stories told by her husband's grandmother who grew up in a Finnish farming and logging community in northern Ontario, and also the author of Dawn Watch and The Red Sash, both illustrated by Nicolas Debon. Jean E. lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Jirina Marton
Jirina Marton has exhibited her paintings throughout Europe, Canada, and Japan. She has illustrated many children's books, including Little Books of Northern Tales: The Bear Says North by Bob Barton, Arctic Adventures: Tales from the Lives of Inuit Artists by Raquel Riveria, Marja's Skis by Jean E. Pendziwol, which was a Governor-General's Award finalist for illustration, and Bella's Tree by Janet Russell, which won the 2009 Governor General's Award for illustration. Jirina lives in Colborne, Ontario.


"...Marton's full pages illustrations are set in a winter wilderness." CM Magazine

"...illustrations have a softly focused, ethereal quality. The evocative text is rich with elements of Nordic culture, and endnotes provide a historical context. While the period will be unfamiliar to young readers, Marja's emotions ring true." School Library Journal

"...tender..." Globe and Mail

"Whether depicting the early spring sun melting snow deep within the forest or showing the strength of a single candle illuminating a dark interior, she captures the mood beautifully." Chronicle Herald