Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis (Paperback)

Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis By Susan Hood, Greg Dawson Cover Image
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A Sydney Taylor Book Award 2023 Middle Grade Notable!

A Jewish Book Council Award Middle Grade Finalist!

The moving true story of how young Ukrainian Jewish piano prodigies Zhanna (alias “Anna”) and her sister Frina outplayed their pursuers while hiding in plain sight during the Holocaust. A middle grade nonfiction novel-in-verse by award-winning author Susan Hood with Greg Dawson (Zhanna’s son).

She wouldn’t be Zhanna. She’d use an alias. A for Anna. A for alive.

When the Germans invade Ukraine, Zhanna, a young Jewish girl, must leave behind her friends, her freedom, and her promising musical future at the world’s top conservatory. With no time to say goodbye, Zhanna, her sister Frina, and their entire family are removed from their home by the Nazis and forced on a long, cold, death march. When a guard turns a blind eye, Zhanna flees with nothing more than her musical talent, her beloved sheet music, and her father’s final plea: “I don’t care what you do. Just live.” 

This incredible true story in-verse about sisterhood, survival, and music is perfect for fans of Lifeboat 12, Inside Out and Back Again, and Alan Gratz.

Includes extensive back matter with original letters and photographs, additional information, and materials for further reading.


About the Author

Susan Hood is the award-winning author of many books for young readers, including Alias Anna, Lifeboat 12, Ada’s Violin, Brothers in Arms, The Last Straw: Kids vs. Plastics, Shaking Things Up, and Titan and the Wild Boars. She is the recipient of an E. B. White Read-Aloud Picture Book Honor, the Christopher Award, the Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, the Golden Kite Award, and the Bank Street Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, given annually for “a distinguished work of nonfiction.” Visit her at

Greg Dawson has been a journalist for over 50 years, winning awards for his work as a TV critic, columnist and feature writer at magazines and newspapers including The Boston Herald, Indianapolis Star, and Orlando Sentinel. He is the author of two books on the Holocaust, Hiding in the Spotlight and Judgment Before Nuremberg, and Busted in Bloomington, a collective memoir of the ‘60s written with his wife, Candy Dawson. To learn more go to

Praise For…

This lyrical book is one of the most truthful survivor stories I’ve ever read. I think this book will be a page-turner for adolescents.  — Jack Kliger, President and CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage

A profound and powerful story of the Holocaust, told with heart, soul, and music.Kathryn Lasky, Newbery Honoree and winner of the National Jewish Book Award

A harrowing and remarkable story of strength and survival.  — Kirkus Reviews

Appended with generous back matter, this offers a revealing look at an underreported Holocaust chapter. — Booklist

Hood tells Zhanna’s sto­ry through both free verse and a rich array of forms. The use of poet­ry is effec­tive, echo­ing in its com­plex­i­ty the music of a sin­gu­lar life caught in the chaos of history. This high­ly rec­om­mend­ed book includes exten­sive back­ground mate­r­i­al, pho­tos, sources, lists of musi­cal com­po­si­tions, and poet­ic forms. — Jewish Book Council

[A] hard-hitting nonfiction biography told in verse. [An] accessible portrait of two talented and determined teens. — Publishers Weekly

This compelling book of loss and perseverance will stay with readers long after they have finished. . . This lyrical biography (written with Dawson, Zhanna’s son) features significant back matter, including discography, original photographs and correspondence, further reading, and more. The verse format and harrowing narrative make this a quick read for reluctant and striving readers. This powerful work of persistence and hope is highly recommended. — School Library Journal

A tribute to the power of girls. — The Sydney Taylor Schmooze

On the Audio Edition: "A touching story of art, struggle, and overcoming persecution, with a narration that is a testament to survival."   — Booklist

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063083905
ISBN-10: 0063083906
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: March 21st, 2023
Pages: 368
Language: English