Author K. Heidi Fishman—and now dear friend, along with her charming husband Dave—was introduced to me, Margie Blumberg, when she was trying to find the yellow cloth star that her mother, Tutti Fishman, had been forced to wear in the Netherlands during the Holocaust. Tutti thought she might have given it to a young man named Jim Catler, who had interviewed her in 1975 when he was 16 years old for an oral history project for the Greater Hartford Jewish Historical Society. Jim Catler happens to be my partner—in business and in life. Heidi, who lives in Vermont, got Jim's number in Bethesda, Maryland, from his father. During that first conversation, Jim assured Heidi that her mother had not given him the yellow star. In fact, he told her, even if Tutti had tried to do so, he would not have accepted it. Instead, he would have recommended that she donate it to a museum. After listening to Heidi describe the book she'd researched and written, Jim asked her if she had interested a publisher—he wanted to buy a copy as soon as it came out. When she answered “not yet,” Jim invited me into the conversation. Within a month, the manuscript had found a home, and ten months later, the book was published. It was, as they say in Yiddish, beshert, or "meant to be."
To keep up with Heidi and her amazing journey—including her efforts, along with others, to honor through Yad Vashem all those who created the passports that saved so many lives—including Tutti's family—during the Holocaust, I highly recommend her blog: https://popjeandme.com.
Educators, please visit https://popjeandme.com/for-educators/, where you will find discussion questions and activities, documents, pictures, maps, research links, videos, and lesson plans.
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A missing yellow star and Jim Catler's spark—his intense interest in recording the stories of Holocaust survivors in the Hartford area—led to our publishing Tutti's Promise. It has since been recorded as an audiobook.
About “Sparks” by Margie Blumberg
Our posts are about those happy sparks of inspiration that we can all enjoy, such as a song in a movie that itself was based on a book. Children’s books and lyrics from musicals are what inspired me to write. I hope they’ll inspire you, too! We’ll also hear the latest news from our authors and illustrators and share their behind-the-scenes work and stories. And since our favorite plays and books are so often the inspiration for wonderful movies, we'll share trailers and book covers, too. We hope you enjoy these little sparks, and if you do, please share them!