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Young Adult Fiction Europe

When the Dikes Breached

by (author) Martha Attema

Ronsdale Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2023
Recommended Age
12 to 18
Recommended Grade
7 to 12
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2023
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


For sixteen-year-old Klara, a devastating flood reveals a dark family secret. It is February 1953 in the Netherlands and Klara is expected to marry the son of a prominent farmer. In this small island community, steeped in tradition, the Church controls the lives of its citizens but Klara longs to escape for adventure on far away shores. When a spring tide merges with a brutal northwestern storm it causes the dikes to breach, unleashing death and destruction that will expose a dark family secret.

About the author

Martha was born on a dairy farm in Friesland, one of the northern provinces in the Netherlands. The family used horses for work and play. She trained and worked as a kindergarten teacher and made up stories, puppet plays and songs for her students. In 1981, Martha immigrated with husband, Albert and three children to Canada. They settled in North Bay, Ontario. Albert worked as an engineer, the children went to school and Martha attended Nipissing University to obtain her teaching certificate. After graduating, she took creative writing classes and became a member of the North Bay Children's Writers' Group. She taught kindergarten for many years and today teaches grade one Language Arts, Drama, Music and Computers. Again Martha found herself writing songs, poems and stories for the students.

The members of the Children's Writers' Group, encouraged her to send her manuscripts to publishers in Canada and the United States. In 1995, she published her first novel, A Time to Choose. This war novel is set in Friesland and deals with the Resistance. Martha was delighted when her first book won the Blue Heron Book Award. Martha's dream of becoming a published author had come true. Martha loves student feedback during school presentations.
Their children have grown up and left home. Albert and Martha have nurtured another dream. They always wanted to live off the grid and use solar and wind energy to power their home. In 2004 that dream came true. Together they built an off the grid straw bale home just outside the town of Powassan in Ontario. The house is super insulated, partially built with renewable resources and powered by renewable energy. They are self sufficient except for the propane tank that fuels the cooking stove.
In her new office, overlooking farmers' fields, she feels inspired to write many more stories for young readers.


Martha Attema's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"This is an unforgettable story of survival. If you enjoy human drama set against historical events as much as I do, this is a book for you." - Heather Stemp, author of&nbspUnder Amelia's Wing
"The backdrop of real historical events lends interest to this tale. The relative simplicity of the language and writing style make the difficult subject matter accessible to reluctant readers. Informative historical fiction written in a quaint, entertaining style." - Kirkus

Other titles by Martha Attema