FULTON, NY – A recently published children’s book that deals with hate and bullying is especially relevant currently in the wake of the Orlando night club murders.
Ann Marie Chalone-Leis and Patricia Chalone-Hardwick, Fulton natives, published the book based on the memories of co-author Gail Danziger Klein’s mother (Renee Danziger), an Auschwitz survivor.
Music Of The Butterfly – A Story Of Hope is meant to be an introduction to the Holocaust for ages 9 and up.
While it deals with a dark time in history and one of the world’s worst bullies, the story is told in a gentle way using colorful illustrations and familiar language, the co-authors said.
Narrating as a grandmother, Renee describes what life was like before, during, and after the war.
She explains that she used her imagination, hummed songs and thought about beautiful things, such as butterflies, to help herself cope when she was in the ghetto and in Auschwitz.
The book deals with modern day issues that children face: bullying, people with differences and celebrating those differences.
It teaches the life cycle of the butterfly as well as many historical facts about Hitler, World War II and life inside the camps.
“The book challenges children to use their imaginations and coping skills when faced with adversity in their lives, and to always have hope,” said Ann.
The trio heavily researched all aspects of the story to ensure it was historically and visually correct.
Illustrator Patricia Hardwick created illustrations based on real photographs of actual guard towers, fences and train cars from authors’ visit to Auschwitz.
Ann, Gail and Patricia’s goal is put the book in as many museums, synagogues, gift shops and libraries around the world as possible so children will learn from past mistakes.
Patricia and Ann said they had the honor to know Renee before she passed away.
It was a true labor of love to write the book and to keep the story alive for the Danziger family, they added.
“Unfortunately, Renee passed away a few years ago. She recalled the memories for her daughter because she wanted to commemorate her life for the Houston Holocaust Museum anniversary,” Theresa Chalone, sister of Ann and Patricia, told Oswego County Today. “She didn’t want to. But, her daughter, Gail, asked her to please do it so that they could document it. Gail never thought a book like this would be published and that people would be so interested in the details.”
“I know it was difficult for her to remember because it was such a tragic time in history. I do know that it took her years to recuperate. Then, finding out that her grandmother, mother, brother and sister (Lili) all perished, it had to be so difficult to accept,” Theresa added. “Lili was Renee Danziger’s sister. Lilli perished as soon as they got off the train. She wasn’t old enough to work. Renee was a worker and not an eater, which is what they called the young children.”
Renee “certainly made a difference in the Houston area, Theresa said.
She was a major contributor to the opera and the arts.
“I had the pleasure of meeting her in 2010 at the family wedding – her grandson married my niece in San Francisco. It was very beautiful. She was a lovely lady,” Theresa said.
The book’s message is very relevant today in the wake of the massacure at the Orlando night club.
“Oh, definitely,” Theresa agreed. “There are so many similarities, bullying, being different, hatred, etc.”
One of Theresa’s sisters went to a fifth grade class and read the book.
But, before she started, she gave the children a folded colored paper. After she was done reading, she said “OK, now I want to explain how the bully carried out his plan.”
She asked all the children with red shoes to go to one spot, kids with yellow on were asked to move to a different spot and so on to demonstrate how people were segregated. She said Hitler even measured people’s noses and if he didn’t like the size, they were labeled in another group.
“There was one child with blonde hair and blue eyes. She said this is all that the bully Hitler wanted his people to look like; all the rest were eliminated. The kids really grasped the story after that,” Theresa said.
Then, she had them open their folded papers.
She told them to “open your paper and see what the world lost by the elimination of 1.5 million children.”
“They opened their papers and it was supposed to be what these children would have been when they grew up. One a scientist who cured cancer, one was doctors, etc. The parents thought it was a wonderful presentation,” Theresa said. “The book definitely relates to the hatred and chaos.”
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The book will soon be available on Amazon.com.