Hungarian Canadian author launches children’s book on Holocaust

How does one broach the painful history of the Holocaust with children, especially when there is a family connection to this tragedy? Hungarian Canadian children’s author Kathy Clark’s book The Choice serves as one way to introduce teens and pre-teens to the Shoah. The Choice is Ms. Clark’s second children’s book that weaves her own family’s experiences during World War II into a narrative exploring the Holocaust through the eyes of a young Hungarian.

Her first book on this theme, The Guardian Angel, was based on the experiences of her mother and grandmother in 1944, when they were hidden from the Nazis and the Hungarian Arrow Cross in a Budapest convent, alongside 120 Hungarian Jewish children. Ms. Clark was awarded a City of Ottawa Arts Council Grant in 2005, which allowed her to conduct research in Budapest for her book.

“I was impressed not only by the heroism of the Sisters of Charity, but also by their respect for the religion of the girls in their charge. I found it curious that none of the women interviewed in the film had converted to the Catholic faith as a result of their stay in the convent. Also, I was intrigued by the idea of what it must have been like for a Jewish girl to be suddenly immersed in the intimate daily lives of Catholic nuns. Immediately I sensed that this would make a great story, told through the eyes of one of the Jewish girls,” explains Ms.Clark, about what inspired her to write her first children’s book on the Holocaust in Hungary. It’s worth noting as well, that the story of conversion to Roman Catholicism is a personal one for the author, as she decided to take up the Catholic faith at age 24, and told her story as part of an anthology entitled Canadian Converts.

Kathy Clark: The Choice. (Second Story Press, 2015).

Kathy Clark: The Choice. (Second Story Press, 2015).

Her new book, The Choice, explores the Holocaust through the eyes of 13 year old Hendrik, who lives in Budapest during the War, but whose family has concealed their Jewish identity, pretending instead to be Catholics, so as to avoid persecution. Hendrik, however, ends up revealing that his real name is Jakob and that his family is Jewish, thus putting himself and his parents at risk. Ms. Clark’s book explores Auschwitz through Hendrik’s eyes.

Not only is the author tied to the history of the Holocaust in Hungary, but also to that of immigration and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Ms. Clark’s parents fled Hungary following the Soviet-led suppression of the revolt, when she was under three years old. For over seven years, Ms. Clark lived with her grandparents in Hungary, before she was finally reunited with her parents in Canada, during the early sixties.

Kathy Clark’s book launch is scheduled for April 18th, 2015 at 11:30 AM, at the Beaverbrook branch of the Ottawa Public Library (2500 Campeau Drive, Kanata). All are welcome to attend.

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