The Crystal Beads, Lalka's Journey
by Pat Black-Gould
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Pub Date 14 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 24 Jun 2022
Purple Butterfly Press, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members' Titles
A Star of David necklace or a rosary?
In 1939 Poland, a young girl is asked to give up one of these and accept the other without understanding why. However, what she must part with happens to be her most prized possession--a precious gift given to her by her father before he died.
The child’s mother then teaches the girl a "game" to prepare her for what is to come. As the Nazis invade the country, the mother is forced to make a heartbreaking sacrifice.
This beautifully illustrated picture book is loosely based on a true story. Although told through the eyes of a young girl, the book is written for readers of all ages.
It also contains two study guides. One is for children, parents, and teachers. The other is for adults who may gather in places of worship, book clubs, and small groups. Discussion topics include themes of compassion, empathy, and diversity.
A Note From the Publisher
Book Design by Sunny Duran
Illustrated by Katya Royz
Book Design by Sunny Duran
”A poignant story of bravery, sacrifice, and love. The Crystal Beads: Lalka's Journey teaches the history of hidden children of the Holocaust, evokes compassion through beautiful language and illustration, and leads readers to consider what connects rather than divides us from one another.“
—Jennifer Rosner, author of The Yellow Bird Sings
“The Crystal Beads beautifully highlights empathy and compassion. Themes, which as an educator, I consider to be the core components in teaching students about the Holocaust.”
—Sandra Roberts, Whitwell Middle School, Whitwell, Tennessee, The Children’s Holocaust Memorial/The Paper Clip Project
Kirkus Review, author appearances, library campaign, partnerships with Jewish organizations
The Crystal Beads, Lalka’s Journey will be presented to the Jewish Book Council’s 120 member organizations for inclusion in the 2022-2023 cohort of titles.
The JBC Network — with roughly 120 member organizations across North America, including JCCs, synagogues, Hillels, Jewish Federations, and cultural centers —provides over 250 authors a platform for sharing their books each year.
JBC Network arranges over 1,300 programs, both virtually and in-person, for our member sites, including special family programming with children’s book authors around holidays, Sunday school, or camp; cooking demos and conversations about food and Jewish identity with cookbook authors; One Book, One Community programs featuring an author that has written on a meaningful topic for the community; Yom HaShoah programming with authors of recent Holocaust memoirs, fiction, and history; events with LGBTQ+ activist authors; intimate book clubs and salon experiences; deep dives into contemporary Jewish practice and ritual; mindfulness workshops; and so much more.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 47 members
Thank you, Purple Butterfly Press, for the advance reading copy.
This book is so precious to me!
Based on a true story of a holocaust survivor, the book does justice with the presentation and the subtle amazing illustrations.
It's the story of a little girl whose mother had to take the best measures to save her little daughter. And it's heartbreaking.
You just have to read this book. It will tell you how mothers have to do everything in order to keep their children safe and sound even though they have to sacrifice themselves.
I am still crying ...
What a heartbreaking and beautiful story of one mother's love! There are as many different Holocaust stories as there were victims and survivors, but this is a less-often told tale of one mother hiding her daughter in an abbey - teaching her about Catholicism as a way to save her life. It, of course, comes to be the very thing that saves her, but the question remains unanswered to the child -- if they both respond to a higher power, which of them is the evil one? This is a powerful read, and one that will spark discussions.
I can easily see this being a book many teachers will read to their students in the decades to come. However, this book should not be shelved only as a children's book as adults can also benefit and learn something by reading it.
Katya Royz’s soft and gorgeous illustrations are one thing, but the imagery in the author’s words is amazing in itself. Pat Black-Gould is able to describe the tone, setting, and emotion of a scene in only a few short sentences. I also appreciated how the story outside of Lalka’s perspective was only implied and it was up to the reader to piece it together. It truly captured the innocence of childhood.
Without spoiling too much, the ending of the book is abrupt (or maybe only because I wanted the story to continue!), but the abruptness allows for instant reflection. The study guide questions at the back of the book also provide an important opportunity to reflect.
Overall, it was a great read and I look forward to having it in my own classroom one day.
The Crystal Beads, Lalka's Story is a stunningly beautiful book, both visually and thematically. The story is told through the eyes of a young, Jewish girl in Poland during WWII. She is forced to swap her prized Star of David necklace for a Rosary while learning the rules to a "game," her mother has invented (which in reality consists of Lalka learning to participate in Catholicism in order to evade the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people.) It is a powerful reminder of not only the physical genocide that took place during the time, but also the immense cultural genocide and the losses that stemmed from that for years to come. The narrative is emotionally charged and had me sobbing throughout. Seeing such tragic and potent events through the lens of a terrified and confused child only added to the weight of the emotions I felt. The vibrant illustrations were breath taking and served to further remind the reader of just how young and innocent the protagonist is. In short I found the book to be moving and profound and I would have no trouble recommending this to my students and quite frankly anyone.
A poignant story of a little Jewish girl during the Holocaust that brought tears to my eyes. In order to keep her safe from persecution by the Nazis, the little girl's mother exchanges her Star of David necklace for a rosary, and instructs her in Catholic practices so that she may be able to pass herself off as a Christian to save her life. Her mother enrolls the little girl in a convent school, entrusting her to the care of a kind nun who teaches her further about Catholic traditions. Days go by and suddenly, the mother no longer visits her daughter anymore. One day, Nazi officers arrive at the convent and harass the little girl, calling her a Jew and threatening her life. Will she be able to save herself from persecution? And how will she reconcile her Jewish background with her new Catholic lifestyle? Beautifully illustrated and narrated, this realistic, heart-wrenching tale is a must-read for those wishing to understand the cruel fate of Jewish children during the Holocaust.
This is a tenderly told story of the Holocaust that will be new for many children. In the midst of World War II, Lalka's mother gifts her a rosary, taking it in exchange for the Star of David necklace given to her by her father. Lalka is reluctant to give up her treasured necklace, she's worn it every day since it was given to her. Her mother tells her the new gift comes with a game, and the reader quickly finds out that the game is learning the Catholic Catechism. As the Nazi invasion looms closer, Lalka's mother is forced to make a heartbreaking sacrifice to give her daughter the best chance at survival.
The Crystal Beads, Lalka's Journey will be an instant classic used to educate, spark conversation, and preserve the collective memory of the Holocaust for generations to come.
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