I’m Not Going Back:
Wartime Memoir of a Child Evacuee
by Kitty Wintrob
Published by Now and Then Books Toronto
It’s the summer of 1939. World War Two has started and Londoners are growing edgy. Blackout curtains go up each evening, with the bustle of daily life resuming each morning. What will happen once the bombs start falling? Fearing for the children’s lives, entire schools are evacuated to the countryside.
Kitty Simmonds, a spirited 10-year-old girl with unruly hair and unwavering pluck, is one of those evacuees. Kitty isn’t pleased to be leaving her Mum and jolly Uncle Yudi behind. Once in the countryside, she’s stunned at the hardships she has to endure from her “foster parents” as she struggles to maintain her Jewish identity in an alien world. She’s determined to escape back to her Mum and the comfort of their home in London’s East End. But then the siren blares, the Blitz begins, and her Mum panics. What’s a feisty little girl to do?
In her book I’m Not Going Back: Wartime Memoir of a Child Evacuee, Toronto author Kitty Wintrob (née Simmonds) tells the captivating story of her experiences. Swept up as a girl in the greatest civilian evacuation in British history, she has written a heartfelt memoir of her time in the countryside and her determination to return home.
The second edition offers a new epilogue that brings the story up to the war’s end and the historic victory celebration outside Buckingham Palace.
The book is suitable for young readers aged 8 and up, and it’s a great read for adults, too.
$18.95 + $3 shipping + HST if applicable
To order a copy of the book, click here.
I’m Not Going Back – Illustrated Edition
by Kitty Wintrob
Pared down to its essentials, I’m Not Going Back – Illustrated Edition is an easy read designed for young people, ages nine to 15 (but adults are sure to enjoy it, too!). Makes a perfect birthday, Christmas or Chanukah gift for the young people in your life. Full colour, 80 pages. Only $22 plus GST. Special: free shipping for a limited time, so please order now!
To order the Illustrated Edition, click here.
by Kitty Wintrob
Published April 2017
The year is 1986. Paul, 17, is a high school student who works part-time as a youth leader at a modern orthodox synagogue in Toronto. His parents are determined to send him to camp for the summer. But he has other plans. With a friend’s help, he signs up for a pre-army six-week cadet training program in Israel. Even though his Hebrew is not every good, he insists on going into an Israeli unit. There he meets secular youth who bait him that a modern orthodox kid − a Canadian, yet! − won’t be able to keep up with the demands of the program. But Paul is determined to prove them wrong. From the moment his plane lands in Tel Aviv to his cadet graduation at the Kotel in Jerusalem, Paul faces numerous challenges and unanticipated adventures along the way. And for the first time, he must confront his future. It’s a common struggle so many teenagers have after spending a powerful summer or gap year in Israel. In Thumbs Up, it certainly changes one young life.
Thumbs Up is written in memory of Phillip Wintrob’s greatest triumph of his short life. Kitty wanted to share her beloved son’s experience with other young people who dream of doing something exceptional.
To order the book, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kitty in the News
Kitty’s story has been recounted in a number of publications:
− CJN Online, Jan. 12, 2021
How I survived the worst night of the Blitz: Huge parts of London were destroyed during Nazi bombing in 1940 and ’41. A survivor recalls the worst night on its 75th anniversary.
− Toronto Star, May 9, 2016
− National Post, September 3, 2014
− Town Crier, August 31, 2011
− National Post, June 11, 2010
Watch Kitty tell her story online:
Crestwood Oral History Project, May 2019
Amazing Woman of the Suncoast: Kitty Wintrob
WWSB MySuncoast, Sarasota, Fla.’s ABC TV affiliate, Jan. 23, 2017
Remembrance Day at Seneca College, Toronto
Upcoming Speaking Engagements
Watch this space for details!
Kitty conducts numerous speaking engagements throughout the year in the Greater Toronto Area as well as in Florida and wherever her travels take her. She speaks to both children and adults at schools, universities, libraries, community centres, seniors residences, places of worship and book clubs.
She is accompanied by her husband, Ralph Wintrob, a retired teacher-librarian and dynamic storyteller who reads selections from her book.
Together, they’re a “George and Gracie” act that’s not to be missed!
To book an author visit, contact: ralfkitty[at]gmail[dot]com 416-781-1214
Kitty at Fieldstone Private School, Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, 2017
Here’s what people have to say about Kitty and Ralph’s book talks:
“Thank you so much for your time and effort and most importantly, for sharing your story with the kids at Montcrest. It was a wonderful presentation, the kids enjoyed it and laughed and listened so attentively to very detail. I know that the students will be able to see London and their trip slightly differently now and it will mean more. Thank you again for your dedication to this work. It’s very important for the kids to know what happened and how hard life was back then and what people have endured so we can live freely now.”
– Yeugenia Kazantseva, Montcrest School, Toronto
“We were so excited to have Kitty and Ralph speak at our Seneca College Markham campus this year. They were a big hit at our Seneca@York campus last year that we booked them through The Memory Project as soon as we could for our Markham Remembrance Day Ceremony 2016. Kitty captured everyone’s attention as she talked about her incredible journey and the hardships she had to ensure from her “foster parents” as she struggles to maintain her Jewish identity in an alien world as a young girl. Thank you for sharing your incredible story and presenting it to everyone in the delightful manner that you do!”
– Jacqueline Lane, Student Services Coordinator, Seneca College, Markham Campus, Toronto
“Kitty and Ralph Wintrob really engaged our synagogue’s Bat Mitzvah program. Kitty’s reflections were not only funny but also thought-provoking and Ralph’s dramatic reading encouraged the girls to go home and read the book – and they DID! The girls connected to the story and were able to relate to the young girl that Kitty described so eloquently. The presentation allowed them to think about what life was like in a time period so different from their own while also drawing lessons to their own lives from the indomitable spirit of a courageous young girl.”
– Avital Strauchler, Shaarei Shomayim Congregation, Toronto
“I just wanted to say a big thank you on behalf of our clients that you spoke to last Friday. For many of our clients, your stories evoked wonderful memories and emotions. Best of luck, and I hope both of you can speak at one of our programs again some day soon!”
– Samuel Tichinoff, Activation Placement Student, SPRINT Senior Care, Toronto
“One could hear a pin drop as the students and teachers listened attentively to Kitty’s deliverance of the challenging life she faced at the beginning of World War Two. Through her memoirs, the students realized the resilience she portrayed. Kitty and Ralph summarized Kitty’s hardships by capturing moments from her book that retained students’ interest. I definitely recommend their readings to your school.”
– Rosalie Goldstein, Librarian, Netivot HaTorah Day School, Thornhill, Ontario
“It was so lovely to meet Kitty and Ralph Wintrob and hear Kitty’s story. They gave a great talk to a local class of Grade 7/8 children. They modified the presentation for the age group and had the students engaged throughout the presentation. Thanks to the Memory Project for being the link and to Kitty and Ralph for sharing her story with us!”
– Anne-Marie Di Lello, Branch Head, Davenport Library, Toronto