This is a sponsored post with The Children’s Book Review and Purple Butterfly Press.
I’m excited to be part of The Crystal Beads: Lalka’s Journey blog tour. Today, I have a guest post from author Pat Black-Gould. Be sure to enter the giveaway below too!
Creating a picture book based on a true story
A few years ago, I wrote a short story called The Crystal Beads, about a little Jewish girl and her mother during the Holocaust. It was inspired by a true story in which the mother takes the child to a convent school and leaves her in the care of nuns to keep her safe. The piece was published in a literary journal. I then decided I wanted to turn the story into a picture book so it could be shared with readers of all ages. The title of the book is The Crystal Beads, Lalka’s Journey.
Since my book was loosely based on a true story, I wanted to ensure I had all the historical details correct. The actual story took place in Poland, and I kept that location, but began the story slightly before the Nazi invasion on September 1, 1939 and continue until several months after the invasion. I wanted readers to see how the lives of the mother and daughter changed during this time. I also needed to research information on Catholic convents where the nuns took in children and shielded them during the war.
Since I was writing a picture book, I specifically wanted to collaborate with an illustrator who could create the era’s setting, style, and dress. In addition to those criteria, I also tried to find an illustrator who had a personal connection to the Holocaust. After a lengthy search, I found Katya Royz. Katya was born in Siberia, but emigrated to Israel in 2017. Katya’s grandfather was a little boy during the Holocaust. He and his family fled Ukraine and moved to Russia shortly before the Nazis invaded his hometown. Given her family background, Katya was passionate about joining me on this project. She created an artistic setting and style to illustrate the period and convey each character’s emotional state, as well as the overall mood of the time.
While writing this book for children, I was mindful of the sensitive nature of this topic, and I wanted the narrative and dialogue to be suitable for young readers without losing the power of the original story. Therefore, I shared the book with Rabbi Mark W. Kiel, the son of a Holocaust survivor and a Holocaust educator. What he said gave me confidence that I had been successful in that regard:
Concerned parents often ask if children can handle the subject of the Holocaust.
The answer is yes, if its story is told with subtlety and grace, as is true in
Crystal Beads, and where the tragedy is redeemed by love.
This was a project and a story that continues to touch my heart. My book was my way of paying tribute to all the victims of the Holocaust, especially this little girl and her mother.
Enter for a chance to win a copy of The Crystal Beads, Lalka’s Journey!
Four (4) winners receive:The Crystal Beads: Book Giveaway
A copy of The Crystal Beads, Lalka’s Journey.
This sounds really moving and looks beautiful. I agree with Pat, children can handle the Holocaust and there are books that teach children about what happened really well
This was really interesting to learn a bit about what goes into making a picture book like this. And it sounds like a lovely book.
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This sounds like a powerful picture book!