The Crystal Beads, Lalka’s Journey by Patricia Black-Gould
A Star of David or a rosary? Lalka, a young girl, must reject one and accept the other without understanding why. Her mother makes a heartbreaking sacrifice to keep her daughter safe.
Poland, 1939. It’s no longer safe for the Jews. Lalka’s mother makes the excruciating choice to teach her the ways of Catholicism and send her to a convent for safekeeping. Little Lalka doesn’t understand why her mother would give her Crystal beads (a rosary) in exchange for her prize possession, her Star of David, a special gift from her father, or why she’s learning new songs and prayers. Lalka and her mother journey to a Convent, where the brave nuns take her under their wing and continue her Catholic education. When the Nazis come looking, will the training be enough? When forced with a difficult decision, will Lalka follow her heart or follow her mother’s directions? And will it be enough to save her life?
A beautiful story of sacrifice and bravery, The Crystal Beads, Lalka’s Journey, highlights a piece of the Holocaust – the hidden children – told from the innocent perspective of a child. Readers also come to understand how people can come together, despite differences, when it really matters.
Such a compassionate and realistic view of one of the ways in which a mother discovers how to keep her daughter safe in a treacherous and deadly time in 1939 Poland.
Lalka’s mother makes the choice to teach her seven-year-old daughter about Catholicism. It is not an easy choice to make. Before Lalka’s father died and left the two of them, he gave his daughter a Star of David—something she wore all the time—her treasure, his last gift to her.
Her mother, however, begins gently by playing a “game” with her daughter in which she exchanges the Star of David with a new necklace—that of crystal beads, a rosary. She then builds on that with prayers and songs, preparing her for the journey to a convent where the nuns will care for her and continue her education.
Lalka is left at the convent in a heartbreaking goodbye. Her mother promised to visit; and does for a while. When Sister Teresa calls Lalka to the office, Lalka is sure her mother is back but is greeted by two men who believe Lalka is a Jew. Lalka follows the instructions her mother gave her and is saved from being taken away.
The story is written for children between the ages of 5-12 years. It is beautifully illustrated with soft pastel colors and drawings that help a child to see and understand the circumstances and the wisdom given Lalka to survive. It’s a short and touching story of the Holocaust—a teachable moment—and unfortunately one that must continue.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book. Beautifully written and illustrated. Currently on pre-order. Recommended.
Rosepoint Rating: Four point Five Stars
Genre: Children’s Holocaust Fiction Books, Children’s Jewish Fiction, Children’s Judaism Books
Publisher: Purple Butterfly Press
Illustrator: Katya Royz
Print Length: 40 pages
Publication Date: June 14, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: Pat Black-Gould, PhD , is a clinical psychologist, author, and playwright. Her short stories have appeared in several literary journals and anthologies.
Many years ago, Pat heard a powerful story that haunted her until she committed it to paper. The Crystal Beads was first published in Jewish Fiction. net in 2020. The short story then won first-place honors in two writing competitions conducted by the National League of American Pen Women, Inc., Washington, D.C. The first was an award by the Pen Women Florida State Association. Pat then received the Flannery O’Connor Short Story Award as part of the National Biennial Letters Competition.
Pat felt it was important to bring the story to a younger audience. At that point, she rewrote it as a children’s book. She hopes that The Crystal Beads, Lalka’s Journey will do justice to the story she once heard and carry its message to younger generations.
Pat’s writing explores topics such as compassion, tolerance, and diversity. She continues to examine these themes in her upcoming novel, Limbo of the Moon, written with her co-writer, Steve Hardiman.
In addition, Pat (under the name of Patricia Black) has published a book chapter and journal articles on Deafness and Mental Heath with co-author, Neal Glickman, PhD.
©2022 V Williams