The International Directory

                      of Published Authors and Illustrators of Books

                     for Children and Young Adults.

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Fern Schumer Chapman

P. O. Box 14

Lake Bluff, IL 60044


Phone: 847-636-2550





Fern Schumer Chapman



Award-winning author Fern Schumer Chapman has written four books—a memoir, a  Young Adult historical novel and two narrative non-fiction works for middle school students.

Her books, emphasizing universal themes of assimilation, family legacy, prejudice, loss and identity, have received critical acclaim and are used in classrooms in the United States and Germany. During her numerous school visits, Fern’s

presentations have helped students to understand the Holocaust and its legacy and to empathize with child immigrants and victims of persecution. Her work has been featured on two Oprah Winfrey shows. Most recently, the Junior Library Guild named her latest book, Stumbling on History, as a featured Spring title.


Awards and Honors

Fern has received many other honors, including:

• Illinois Author of the Year

• Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers

• BookSense 76 pick

• National Jewish Book Award Finalist

• Booklist‘s Top Ten Historical Fiction Title for Youth in 2010

• Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best list

• Illinois Reads selected this book as a featured title for 2013

For a complete list, please visit:




A sought-after speaker, Fern has presented to hundreds of schools, charity events and women’s organizations. Her moving stories have touched thousands. The subject of Fern’s books, 91-year-old Holocaust refugee Edith Westerfeld, often accompanies the author on school visits.


Illinois Reads author Fern Schumer Chapman brings her audience along on her mother’s childhood immigration journey as one of the children rescued from Nazi Germany by a little-known American program.  Her books resonate with universal themes of assimilation, family legacy, prejudice, loss and identity. Teacher’s Guides, aligned with the Common Core, are available for all of her books.

After a middle school class read Is It Night or Day? (Lexile Measurement: 810L)—a historical novel which captures the 1938 shipboard friendship of two 12-year-old girls, Gerda Katz and Edith Westerfeld Schumer—students were so moved by the story that they made it a class project to reunite the two Holocaust refugees. They succeeded. Fulfilling a life-long dream, the two women finally saw each other again in Seattle, Washington—73 years after their long-ago journey.

The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) featured a story about this emotional reunion. Ms. Chapman’s presentations inspire student empathy and a desire to tackle similar community service projects. These presentations also help your district meet the state mandate for Holocaust education. Her offerings include:

  • How compassionate 8th graders reunited two Holocaust refugees (PowerPoint presentation and a video clip of the actual reunion from the Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • A Child’s Immigration Story:  Edith’s journey from Nazi Germany to America (PowerPoint presentation)
  • Confronting the Past:  How do countries atone for national crimes (based on new book, Stumbling on History)
  • Fall Kick-off Assembly: Developing Student Values and School Culture
  • Writers Workshop
  • Family History Workshop (A Title 1 Favorite–PowerPoint presentation about the importance of family stories)
  • Teaching seminars on teaching writing


Length of Programs: From 30 to 90 minutes, depending upon the grade level and type of presentation.

Audience Size: Fern will tailor her program to the grade and size of your audience. No limits on attendance for assemblies. Workshops work best with groups fewer than 50.


Presentation Testimonials

“I have witnessed many author presentations, and I have never seen students so engaged.” —Patricia Stacey, Thompson Middle School, St. Charles, Illinois

“Fern’s ability to connect with students on poignant topics of identity, struggle and perseverance makes her a can’t-miss opportunity for your school.” —David Lopez, Literacy Coach, Morton High School, Cicero, Illinois


Student Comments

“I will never forget this moment. I will tell my kids…”  - Danny

“You taught us to celebrate our differences and, for that, I am thankful.” - Aisha

Published Books


Teacher’s Guides, aligned with the Common Core (CCSS), are available for these books.












Stumbling on History: An Art Project Compels A Small German Town to Face its Past

Fern Schumer Chapman (Author), Tom Greensfelder (Illustrator) Reading level: Ages 10-14 Paperback 54 pages Publisher: Gussie Rose Press (September 1, 2016) ISBN-10: 0996472517, ISBN-13: 978-0996472517

Edith Westerfeld, an 89-year-old Holocaust refugee, wonders if the memory of the Nazis murdering her parents, along with millions of other victims, will outlive the survivors. Now—76 years after Edith's parents saved their daughter's life by sending her, alone and terrified, to America—she returns to the small German town where her family had lived for hundreds of years. Invited to witness the installation of a memorial to her family—part of an effort throughout Europe to confront the genocide of World War II—she experiences how art is helping today's generation face and atone for crimes of the past.  Stumbling On History carries the readers along on this journey, as Edith joins the ceremony of Stolpersteine—"Stumbling Stones." Watching her former neighbors and descendants struggle to right their nation's past wrongs, she realizes at last the power of hearing, "I'm sorry."


Junior Library Guild selection 2017

Like Finding My Twin

Fern Schumer Chapman (Author), Tom Greensfelder (Illustrator) Reading level: Ages 10-14 Paperback 56 pages Publisher: Gussie Rose Press; 1 edition (July 27, 2015) ISBN-10: 0996472509, ISBN-13: 978-0996472500

On the ship that brought her from Nazi Germany to America, young Edith Westerfeld met Gerda Katz. Both 12-year-old girls were traveling alone and immediately became best friends. Unfortunately, the two unaccompanied minors lost touch after their arrival in 1938. Decades later, after a northern Illinois middle-school class read Is It Night or Day?—a historical novel that captures the two girls friendship—the students were so moved by the story that they made it a class project to reunite the two women. Fulfilling a shared life-long dream, the two women, now in their 80s, finally saw each other again in Seattle, Washington, in 2011. Through historical documents, photographs and storytelling, Like Finding My Twin captures the friendship of the two Holocaust refugees, the students' research and the remarkable reunion 73 years after Gerda and Edith shared their immigration journey. Like Finding My Twin fulfills Common Core State Standard (CCSS) requirements for Holocaust, Diversity, Character Education and Service Learning mandates, and it can be read with Is It Night or Day? as paired fiction/non-fiction texts.



Finalist, Society of Midland Authors 2015 Award (Children's Non-fiction)

Independent Publisher 2016 Bronze Medal Winner (Juvenile-Young Adult Non-fiction)


Editorial Reviews

"Ever student should read it. Every school should teach it." —Pulitzer Prize nominee James B. Lieber

"...An excellent introduction to the Holocaust... an important addition to any library, especially those serving elementary and middle school students." —Association of Jewish Libraries newsletter

"...A non-fiction narrative that informs and inspires..." —Hadassah Magazine

"Every child should read it. Every school should teach it."

"A valuable nonfiction story that will bring WWII, the Holocaust and the perils of immigration to life.  Highly recommended for ages 10- 17." —Jewish Book Council





Is It Night or Day?

Fern Schumer Chapman (Author), Reading level: Ages 10-14 Paperback 256 pages Hardcover 224 pages Publisher: Square Fish, Reprint edition (March 18, 2014) Hardcover ISBN: 0374177449 Paperback ISBN: 1250044219

A work of historical fiction, Is It Night or Day? is a prequel to Motherland that explores immigration, Americanization and identity formation through a little-known program that rescued 1,400 youngsters from the Holocaust. In 1938–torn away from her family and friends, her village in Germany and everything she has ever known–12-year-old Edith Westerfeld travels alone to distant America as her parents struggle to follow her in escaping the Nazis. Sent to live with a hostile aunt who makes Edith a virtual servant, the girl desperately seeks to understand who she is in this new world. One girl’s journey from child refugee to American teenager mirrors and illuminates the struggle of every immigrant child as Edith searches for a new identity through school, friends and even baseball.

The paperback edition of Is It Night or Day? includes bonus material—a Q/A with the author, a 3,000-word story of how 8th graders reunited the two Holocaust refugees featured in the book, and the Teachers Guide, which is aligned with the new Core Curriculum State Standards.











Fern Schumer Chapman and Edith Westerfeld



Junior Library Guild selection


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist *starred review– ”Powerful and with the best writing, the specifics about life as a young immigrant are universal.”

From Kirkus Reviews– “...rings with authenticity…Moving!”

From Library Media Connection *starred review– “...exceptional story of survival and devotion to homeland.”

From Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA)– “This is a superb addition to any Holocaust or American History collection. Students will be moved by Edith’s story.”



















Motherland: Beyond the Holocaust-A Mother/Daughter Journey to Reclaim the Past

Fern Schumer Chapman (Author), Reading level: Ages 10-14 Hardcover 208 pages Paperback 190 pages Publisher: Penguin Books (April 1, 2001) Hardcover ISBN: 0670881058 Paperback ISBN: 0140286233

A memoir, Motherland follows a young mother’s pilgrimage into her family’s history as author Fern Schumer Chapman uneasily accompanies her mother, Edith, a Holocaust escapee, on a baffling visit to the German village her mother left at the age of 12. Edith, the youngest member of the town’s only remaining Jewish family, was sent alone and terrified to America to escape the Nazis. Nearly half a century later, mother and daughter return to the village and gradually realize that no one has escaped the shame, guilt and lingering scars of the war.

The success of Motherland has led to numerous speaking engagements at libraries, book clubs, junior/senior high schools, universities and literary organizations.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist *starred review– "...a new and profound perspective on the legacy of the Holocaust."

From Kirkus Reviews– “An outstanding portrait of the painful postwar waltz of Germans, their victims, and their victims’ victims.”

Chicago Tribune– “Meticulously detailed account…which Chapman renders with precise and often moving prose.”

Dallas Morning News– “Anyone who reads her observations about the remnants of anti-Semitism will surely be moved and even outraged.”

San Diego Jewish Heritage– “This finalist in the 2000 National Jewish Book Awards should have been a winner...beautifully written and is so gripping that it is hard to put down."– "Amazing…tragic and triumphant…incredibly powerful.”




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