The Crystal Beads Lalka's Journey -- a new picture book with a different story from the Holocaust


Disclosure: I was sent a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am working with The Children's Book Review and Purple Butterfly Press with this post and will receive a small stipend for it. All opinions are my own.

There are so many untold stories from the Holocaust. Today I get to share a new book that shares a story I haven't heard previously. The book is The Crystal Beads Lalka's Journey by Pat Black-Gould with illustrations by Katya Royz. Below you will find out about the book, my review, a giveaway as well as some crafts to go with this book.

From the Publisher:

The Crystal Beads, Lalka’s Journey

Written by Pat Black-Gould | Illustrated by Katya Royz | Ages 8+ | 40 Pages
Publisher: Purple Butterfly Press | ISBN-13: 9781955119207

Publisher’s Synopsis: 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.

About the Author:

Pat Black-Gould, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and an author. 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, Washington, D.C.

The first was an award by the Pen Women Florida State Association. She then received the Flannery O’Connor Short Story Award as part of the National Biennial Letters in Competition. Pat felt it 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.

For more information, visit

From Me:

This story tells about the sacrifice some Jewish families made during the Holocaust to keep their children alive. They taught their children to be Christians and left them at convents. Can you imagine what it must have taken for Jewish parents to have their kids taught the various Christian prayers--prayers to a Lord they do not believe in? We say we will do anything for our kids. I suppose this may be what these parents were thinking. It amazes me, but as this story shares it did save the kids' lives. In the afterword, Pat Black-Gould shares that she heard about a girl sent to a convent during the Holocaust. The girl survived but her mother did not. This is what this book is based on. The afterword goes on to share about an amazing school that collected paper clips to represent the number of people who died due to the Holocaust to give the students an idea of what the number truly is. She shares more resources to learn about it as well. While reading this I thought of a Jewish friend who went through a divorce. Her ex-husband was taking their daughters to church and the friend feared that they would be given Communion and what messages they would get since they were being brought up Jewish. She didn't even want her going to Sunday School. How much harder it must have been to teach your kids the prayers of Christianity and leave them at a convent knowing they would be taught about Jesus and given Communion. Yet it would also mean their children have a chance to live. 

This book shares a story I personally had not heard about. It is sad but I can envision it so clearly. There is no mention of death. The story shares the daughter's point of view. There are some scary moments like when she is questioned by the gestapo. 

In the story there are two "necklaces" that are significant to the girl. The first is the star of David necklace her papa gave her. The second is the new sparkly rosary beads her mother gives her on her seventh birthday. They begin playing a game with the beads. The game is learning to be a Catholic so she will survive if questioned by the Gestapo. Once her mother feels she knows enough she brings her to the convent where the nuns teach her even more and protect her. This story is more about the history and not so much about characters, so the characters are not well developed. It is a powerful story though. I hope you will check it out.  

Crafts & Activities to Go with The Crystal Beads

Star of David

I asked my fellow bloggers for some of their Star of David crafts. Here is what they shared and are perfect to go with this book. 

1) Star of David Tessellations from Little Bins for Little Hands

2) Shimmering Star of David from Crafts by Amanda

3) Paper Star of David (Hanukkah Garland) from Moms & Crafters

4) Star of David Necklace Craft from Jewish Moms & Crafters

5) Star of David Suncatcher from Red Ted Art

6) Star of David Kippah Clips and Pins from Jewish Moms & Crafters

7) Our Star of David Watercolor

Rosary Beads

I found several places with tutorials to make your own rosary beads with kids like this one at Real Life at Home, or this one over at Just One Carry-On, or this one from S&S Blog, or this one over at Catholic Icing. There are also ones for Decade Rosaries like this one on Joyful Catholic Family or this one at Catholic Teacher Resources.

Of course to go with your rosary beads you may want to teach kids how to use them or at least how they are used. I found some lessons for you to use like this one at Carrots for Michaelmas, or this one with a printable over at Kinder Craze, or this one at Real Life at Home. The Catholic Kid offers a coloring page with tutorial. Catholic Icing has several activities and crafts for lessons with rosary beads as well. 


Enter for a chance to win a copy of The Crystal Beads, Lalka's Journey! Good luck!

Four (4) winners receive:
  • A copy of The Crystal Beads, Lalka's Journey.