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December 8, 2022

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Susan Hood & Greg Dawson — Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis – with Aimée B Dawson

2 min read

When Aimée Dawson began what seemed like a simple assignment for school —learn what your grandmother was doing when she was your age—no one expected just how much she would discover. Born in Ukraine, both her grandmother Zhanna (who used the alias, Anna) and her sister Frina were piano prodigies who escaped a Nazi death march with nothing more than their lives, their favorite Chopin sheet music, and their innate talent as piano prodigies. Zhanna and Frina had never told anyone about their wartime experiences.

Written in verse by children’s book author Susan Hood together with Zhanna’s son, Greg Dawson, Alias Anna tells the compelling true story of the two girls who were hidden in plain sight as they were taken all over Europe to play piano for the occupying German troops. They played in an attempt to fulfill their father’s final plea: “I don’t care what you do. Just live.”


Susan Hood is the award-winning author of many picture books for young readers, including The Last Straw: Kids vs. Plastics; Ada’s Violin, and Titan and the Wild Boars: The True Cave Rescue of the Thai Soccer Team. In 2018, Susan published her first middle grade novel Lifeboat 12, which won the 2019 SCBWI Golden Kite Award for middle grade fiction and is now nominated for many state awards.

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.

Aimée Dawson is Zhanna’s granddaughter and the girl who started the germ of the idea for Alias Anna with her middle school project more than 30 years ago. She also is the narrator for the audio book of Alias Anna.

Ages 10+

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Founded by Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade in 1984, Politics and Prose Bookstore is Washington, D.C.’s premier independent bookstore and cultural hub, a gathering place for people interested in reading and discussing books. Politics and Prose offers superior service, unusual book choices, and a haven for book lovers in the store and online.

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