A BOOK by ME
A BOOK by ME (ABBM) is a movement that empowers students to preserve history, telling the story of unsung heroes in our communities and giving them a voice to spread their message. With young people being so limited right now due to Covid-19, this is the perfect project to do in these unprecedented times. There is a very short window of opportunity to interview the WWII generation. Now is the time.
Our project helps participants become more creative as they meet peers, experts and community members. They become more open to exploring different points of view on various topics. Ultimately, this project gives them the ability to learn about becoming a global collaborator.
There is virtually no cost to the students (a $25 registration fee) and no cost whatsoever to the subject. For the young participants, it's a guided cross-curricular project that gathers stories of people who do amazing things but have received little or no recognition. Students learn how to publish a picture book that is a primary source document with photographs and a biography.
Currently our senior citizens are home-bound due to Covid-19. Youth can show they care by showing interest in their story and interviewing them via FaceTime or Zoom. See our writer's guidelines and have students watch the videos for direction how to proceed.
Below you will find photos of some of our ordinary students who have done something extraordinary. They have written and/or illustrated stories of amazing subjects, mostly WWII stories. In doing so, their published work has preserved history for the next generation of young learners who may not have the opportunity to meet the Greatest Generation.
Zach Cantwell, 15, of Galesburg donates a book about WWII veteran Floyd Ragsdale to VFW members Steve German and Terry Burns that he illustrated and Luke Bradburn wrote for a Boy Scout project. [BILL NICE/The Register -Mail]
WWII Veteran Floyd Ragsdale
Floyd had an interview with these two boy scouts and passed away just a few days later.
He died knowing someone cared about his story. Thanks to these two kind young men, it will live on for future generations.
Pam Johnson, a member of Daughters of American Revolution (DAR), was the writing coach for their efforts.
Children of American Revolution
Veteran Dean Ruth with his stepson, and author / illustrator of "From the Desert and Back" a book written about his service.
Young Jacob Shadinger is a member of National Society of the Children of the American Revolution (C.A.R.).
USHMM Book Signing
Two brothers heard an important story about a man from Norway. Young Art Hilmo skied Jewish people and others into the safety of Sweden in the dark of night.
A brave thing to do since the Nazis would have killed him for his betrayal.
"A Secret Journey" was written and illustrated by Reece and Riley Bowman of Moline, IL. They had the honor of signing some of the books at the bookstore in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. during their summer vacation.
Jewish Survivor Esther Schiff
Esther always said "we cannot hate, because we were hated."
For the six million who cannot speak, we must remember!
Esther's hands holding this stone is a reminder to us all.
DAR Writing Coach
"A Soldier in Cebu" tells the story of WWII veteran, James Verheyen of Galesburg, IL.
Young author and illustrator [Julia Robinson and Adrianne Fernando] are from Costa Catholic Acadamy.
Regent Pam Johnson from Rebecca Parke Chapter of DAR received $1000 donation funds from DAR chapters and local groups to allow all schools and libraries in Knox County to receive this literature.
Pictured with the girls and Pam is staff from Galesburg Public Library, August 2019.
Regent Pam Johnson of the Rebecca Parke Chapter NSDAR donates two World War II books from A BOOK by ME Publications to Galesburg Public Library Director Zach Holt.
Honoring the Women of WWII
It was a wonderful event honoring a great lady.
I'll never forget Julia telling a group of students about working in the bomb factory before she went to California as a "Rosie".
The squeak of a shoe could detonate the powder they were putting in the bombs.
One friend was killed and another lost both arms doing what needed to be done for the boys to win the war.
What a lesson she taught us that day. What a beautiful, fun-loving lady who was a true patriot.
Our Rosie the Riveter
Rep. Cheri Bustos, left, sits with Julia Mattocks, accompanied by Pam Johnson of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Wednesday at the Galesburg VFW. Bustos presented Mattocks with a copy of the congressional record of May 25, as Mattock's life and legacy was honored on the house floor. Mattocks worked during World War II as a "Rosie the Riveter." [TALBOT FISHER/The Register-Mail]
Washington Post Article
A student from the D.C. area was featured in the Washington Post with her subject, Jewish Survivor Inge Auerbacher.
Marion Blumenthal Lazan
Marion is a popular speaker, known by teachers around the world. She was a small child in a concentration camp. Her game of finding four pebbles (one for each member of her family) encouraged her every day that they would all survive.
Siblings Jon and Christine Mattern met her and heard her inspirational story. They felt those stones gave her hope and titled her book "Never Lose Hope".
Deb with Exchange Student Amen Gabre promoting two books in the A BOOK by ME series.
Amen won first place in a state essay contest in Iowa (see link attached). She wrote about her experience witnessing the hardships women in Ethiopia endure.
WWII Veteran John Gualtier
John told these girls what it was like to work as a medic on the front lines in Europe during the war.
There was no medicine to spare so if he pulled an injured man back to assess his wounds and there was no hope of saving him, he couldn't give him anything for pain.
They would call his name all night long as death lingered. "Barbed Wire Wings" is the title of this important book.
Graziella Viterbi in Italy
An exchange student at the Bowen home, Nic from Italy, wasn't interested in the book project until he heard there were Catholics in Assisi who saved Jews.
Nic went home and interviewed a survivor over the phone. He wrote her story in Italian and once text was approved by her, he translated it into English.
Deb Bowen went to Italy and met with Nic and Graziella.
"Assisi - My Safe Haven" by Nicolla Dalla Torre.
The Quad Cities Three Esthers
These three ladies are the inspiration for A BOOK by ME. They started it all.
When Deb Bowen saw them at a Holocaust Remembrance event in 2003, she could not let their stories die with them.
Their stories were written and illustrated by kids for kids. The Jewish Federation received grant monies and put them in area schools. Feedback from teachers said "this makes the Holocaust more real to our students."
WWII Veteran Eugene Parmer
Eugene from Iowa shot the lock off one of the gates of Dachau concentration camp. The Jewish prisoners knocked him down because they wanted his American flag lapel pins. He was their liberator.
He lived with the memories of sights and smells from that camp for the rest of his life.
Young Amanda DeVilder wrote and illustrated this important story for young readers.
Esther Schiff and her young author
Michael Bowen was very young when he learned Esther could not bring herself to go into a classroom and speak about her experiences during the Holocaust.
He immediately volunteered to write her story and the family's foreign exchange student from Germany agreed to illustrate.
Esther passed herself off as Catholic and was shipped to Germany as Polish slave labor. She gave herself a typical gentile name Edwarda.
The title of her book is "Edwarda Opatowska Saved My Life".
Frieda Roos-Van Hessen
This picture was taken on Frieda's 100th birthday!
Young Daniel Gittleman captured Frieda's storybook when he was very young. Both live in the Charlotte, NC area.
She was a talented singer who was told she could no longer perform publicly after the Nazis invaded.
The title of her storybook is "From Singer to Survivor".
Dr. Ralph Troll and Sarah Callahan
Ralph grew up in Germany and remembers the Allied airplanes flying over his family farm. His mother was Jewish and his father Christian. He was devastated when the Nazis came for her and took her to a camp.
At school the next day, he was told he was not worthy of an education. His mom survived and their family immigrated to Chicago.
Ralph got his education in America and became a college professor. Sarah wrote his story and titled it "Hope is Never Lost".
Jewish Survivor Francis Shnurman
Young Lauren Plumley interviewed Francis to write and illustrate her story. Thankfully, she got there in time because Francis passed away shortly after the interview.
"Against All Odds" tells the story of a courageous woman's survival, against all odds.
Anne Frank's Step-Sister
Eva Schloss became Otto Frank's step-daughter after the war. Her father and brother were killed in the war. Like the Frank family, her family was in hiding and was caught and sent to a concentration camp.
Young Eva knew and played with Anne and Margo before going into hiding.
Two exchange students (Romania and Vietnam) wrote and illustrated "Hide & Seek With Evil".
Teachers Appreciate Book Sets
The young authors and artists who have accomplished this work are touching lives in classrooms across the country.
It's so nice to get teacher feedback when sets are received.
Yitzhak Lichtenfeld Jewish Survivor
This is the first book in the series written in Israel. The story of Yitzhak Lichtenfeld who was a young boy in war-torn Poland. Luckily, he did not look Jewish which helped save his life and feed his family.
Young author Elad Jovani wrote his story entitled "Led by the Look" in Hebrew and translated it to English. The beautiful artwork was created in Iowa by Olivia Allard.
St Ambrose University
Much excitement when exchange students attended Deb's class on the Holocaust at St Ambrose University.
Students from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Jorden, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Suriname, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine (2).
WWII Veteran Paul Hauck
Young Marisa Paulson interviewed Dr. Paul Hauck. He was born in Germany and his parents immigrated to America before the war.
He went back to his homeland as a soldier and was an eyewitness to the horrors at Nordhousen.
Paul told his young author his story and she felt he had lived a blessed life. She titled his book "A Blessed Life".
WWII Veteran Jesse Crawford
This was the very first WWII veteran interview for A BOOK by ME. Jesse's book titled A Boy Called Jesse: A Hometown Hero was written and illustrated.
Jesse served his country during WWII and was shocked to find the Jewish prisoners in a camp after the war ended.
Young Joshua Bowen wrote his story and a German exchange student named Laura Kase illustrated the book entitled "A Boy Called Jesse".
Young Author Recognition
In Spring of 2011, young authors and illustrators were recognized for their storytelling efforts.
This picture has many American participants along with exchange students from Morocco, Pakistan, Israel, Azerbaijan, and Bangladesh. Also, a refugee student from Afghanistan.
A Lesson on Suicide
WWII Veteran John Gualtier can hold the interest of a room full of students. His experiences during the war included working triage on the front lines and having a Jewish man die in his arms when he liberated a concentration camp.
He came home with PTSD and tried to kill himself three times. Thankfully, he was not successful, and today, he touches the lives of children and men and women coming home from war with PTSD.
He has saved lives and is thankful to be used this way.
Jewish Survivor Doris Fogel
Young Doris and her mother were caught in Hitler's web in Europe. They learned there was a chance to escape by going to Shanghai, China.
Young author Amen Gabre (Ethiopia) and illustrator Faith Mutum did a brilliant job capturing her story for young readers.
The title of the girl's book is "Run".
Jewish Survivor Roman Frayman
Teen author Miriam Duhamel, and teen illustrator Anna Wolf, have created compelling text and images to explore the life of Roman Frayman. All live in Ohio.
Born a Jew in Poland, Roman believes that it was a miracle he survived the Holocaust.
The title of this book is "Three Miracles".
Young Maya Baker wrote the story of Marguerite, a Jewish child who was hidden with a tavern owner during the war.
A Nazi soldier would hold the young girl on his lap while bragging to his friends he could smell a Jew from a mile away.
"A Nazi Loved Me" is an amazing story of survival.
Righteous Gentile Jeno Berta
Jeno was a six year old in Hungary when Hitler invaded. His Catholic family bravely decided to hide a Jewish family of four in their bar.
Alexis Ryckaert was inspired and wrote his story entitled "Strangers in Berta's Barn" with great love.
Jewish Survivor David Wolnerman
David was a young boy in Poland when the Nazis invaded. When they rounded up his family, he noticed the old and young were sent one way and the able bodied were sent another.
He bravely told a lie when asked his age. His fib saved his life as the old and young went straight to the gas chamber.
Author Sydney Pearl did a great job telling his story titled "A Lucky Lie" for young readers.
Virgil - a WWII Hero
Deb Bowen and Sharon Taylor (Volunteer Story Coordinator for A BOOK by ME) with Veteran Virgil Juliot of Geneseo, IL.
He was a navigator on a B-29 Superfortress in the war. His model airplane was signed by Paul Tibbets, the pilot who flew the Enola Gay when it dropped the bomb called Little Boy on Hiroshima.
His storybook is in process and will soon be in the hands of children.
St Paul the Apostle Catholic School
Kids loved the book set a local business donated!
This class collected purses and items to put in them and gave to young pregnant moms after hearing my presentation.
That's the kind of action I want to see! Way to go kids!
Hungarian Jeno Berta helped the A BOOK by ME team distribute books to all schools in Scott County. His story of protecting a Jewish family during WWII was part of this distribution.
Fall of 2015
Daughters of American Revolution
Deb's friendship with Regent Karin Ciaccio resulted her the stories of two her ancestors who fought in the revolution told for young readers.
Karin's two grandsons each wrote and illustrated stories about the founding of America.
USA Today Article
An article that was on the front page of the Des Moines Register about Jewish Survivor David Wolnerman was picked up by USA Today.
David called Deb Bowen saying "Deb, I got a virus". He was jokingly saying his story went viral.