Fern Schumer

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General Information

Fran Schumer.jpg

Name: Fern Schumer

Pen Name: Fern Schumer Chapman

Genre: Non-Fiction

Born: 1954 in Chicago, Illinois

Website: www.fernschumerchapman.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fern.schumerchapman/about?ref=search%3Dfern+schumer+chapman

Blog: www.fernschumerchapman.com/blog

Email: fernschumer@aim.com

  • Photo taken at the Warren-Newport Library, May, 2010

Illinois Connection

Schumer was born in Chicago and currently resides in Lake Bluff.

Biographical and Professional Information

Fern Schumer is an author and accomplished journalist and former reporter for the Chicago Tribune and Forbes, whose work also has appeared in The Forward, The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Fortune, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Communications, with a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, she has taught magazine writing and other seminars at both Northwestern and Lake Forest College.

Fern's first book is titled: Motherland: Beyond the Holocaust: A Mother-Daughter Journey to Reclaim the Past. Motherland is the compelling true story of Edith Schumer, orphaned by the Nazis, and her return 52 years later to Germany with daughter Fern, who knew almost nothing of her mother's past.

Motherland was named a Barnes & Noble Discover New Great Writers title, recommended by Book Sense 76 and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Awards. Hallmark Entertainment has optioned film rights and the book was featured on the June 2, 2000 Oprah Winfrey Show.

In 2004, the Illinois Association of Teachers of English named Ms. Chapman, Illinois Author of the Year. Fern was also honored at the 2005 Illinois Authors Book Fair presented by the Illinois Center for the Book and the Illinois State Library in Springfield, Illinois.

Prestigious honor, positive reviews for Is It Night or Day?

February 22, 2010

Weeks before release, Fern Schumer Chapman’s new novel Is It Night or Day? has received a prestigious honor, a starred review, and exciting notice.

The Junior Library Guild (JLG), a literary review and selection service for children’s and young-adult books serving more than 17,000 school and public librarians nationwide, has selected Is It Night or Day? as a featured title for the spring 2010 season.

In addition, the book has received a starred review in the American Library Association's influential magazine, Booklist. In the February 1, 2010 issue, Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman calls the narrator's voice powerful and eloquent, adding that, as with the best writing, the specifics about life as a young immigrant are universal. Kirkus calls the book moving, adding that this empathetic historical novel rings with authenticity. Publishers Weekly calls the book well worth reading, and acclaims the book for its honesty.

Recognition from the Junior Library Guild comes after editors choose just 180 titles from more than 3,000 submissions. Selected before publication, these noteworthy titles typically go on to gain other honors and to appear on critics' and librarians' award lists.

Is It Night or Day? tells the story of a 12-year-old girl (the author's mother) who escapes certain death at the hands of the Nazis by traveling alone to a new life in a foreign country. Young Edith's bewildered efforts to assimilate in America are as poignant as her struggle against constant feelings of abandonment and isolation. Through the prism of one girl's story, readers experience urgent themes that resonate with today's headlines: families torn and children threatened by immigration issues, war, natural disasters, and the daunting work necessary to rebuild a life in the face of unspeakable loss.

A prequel to Chapman's first book, Motherland, the new book explores the little known One Thousand Children project which rescued some 1,200 youngsters from the Holocaust. Both haunting and inspiring, Is It Night or Day? is a rich and rewarding work of historical fiction accessible to readers of any age.

To learn more about Is It Night or Day? please visit www.fernschumerchapman.com. To schedule an interview with the author, please call Bruce Wasser at 510-468-7815.

See the reunion of Edith and Gerda on the show LOST & FOUND on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

On the ship that brought her to America, my mother, Edith Westerfeld became best friends with 12-year-old Gerda Katz, but the two hadn’t seen each other since their arrival in 1938. After a Naperville, Illinois middle-school class read Is It Night or Day?, 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 2011.

Edith and Gerda's story is the very first episode on the OWN series, LOST & FOUND, which originally aired on January 3rd exclusively on the OWN network.Below is a link to a the show from the OWN website.


Published Works

  • Motherland: Beyond the Holocaust: A Mother-Daughter Journey to Reclaim the Past, Viking Adult, 2001
  • Is It Night or Day?, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010
  • Like Finding My Twin, Gussie Rose Press, 2015
  • Stumbling On History: An Art Project Compels A Small German Town To Face Its Past, Gussie Rose Press, 2016

Titles at Your Library

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

ISBN: 0140286233
Release Date: 2001-04-01

Find on World Cat

Stumbling On History: An Art Project Compels A Small German Town To Face Its Past

ISBN: 0996472517
Release Date: 2016-09-01

Find on World Cat

Literary Awards


  • Discover New Great Writers title, Barnes & Noble
  • Recommended Book, Book Sense 76
  • Finalist, National Jewish Book Awards
  • Illinois Read for Lifetime Pick, Illinois State Library, 2008

Is it Night or Day?

  • ILLINOIS READS Book, Illinois Reading Council, 2013
  • Junior Library Guild selection, spring 2010
  • Top Ten Historic Fiction title for Youth, Booklist, 2010
  • Starred Review, Booklist
  • 5th Grade Summer Reading List, Education.com, 2010
  • Moonbeam Gold Medal – Young Adult Fiction
  • Best of the Best, Historical/Cultural, Chicago Public Library, 2010
  • Teaching Tolerance Teaching Tool, Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Notable Book, Sydney Taylor, 2010
  • Maine State Student Book Award Title List,
  • Best Children’s Books of the Year Master List, Bank Street College
  • Tennessee YA Volunteer State Book Award Master List
  • Honorable Mentions List, Garden State Teen Book Awards, 2012
  • One Book/One Community program, Waseca, MN and Libertyville/Vernon Hills, IL

Like Finding My Twin

  • Finalist, Children’s Non-fiction, Society of Midland Authors, 2015
  • Bronze Medal Winner, Juvenile-Young Adult Non-Fiction Category, Independent Publisher Book Award, 2016

Body of Work:

  • Illinois Author of the Year, Illinois Association of Teachers of English, 2004
  • Honored at the Illinois Authors Book Fair, Illinois Center for the Book and the Illinois State Library, 2005

Speaking Engagements and Upcoming Appearances

Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)

External Links

Fern Schumer on WorldCat


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