My review of “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”

Lately a lot of people have been mentioning to me the movie The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, whenever I discuss Joe’s memoir, The Altered I: Memoir of Joseph Kempler, Holocaust Survivor. I have seen this movie, several times, and felt completely absorbed by the plot. I haven’t read the book…yet. Joe has seen this movie as well and he remains silent on the subject. I’m not sure why this fictionalized account is being taken as some kind of truth, but I would like to set the record straight. I certainly don’t mean any disrespect toward this movie or book (which as I mentioned I do want to read), but people need to understand that the book, written by John Boyne, and adapted as a movie (2008, directed by Mark Herman) is generally accepted as a fable–a story conveying a moral–and shouldn’t be taken as the truth. What I’m about to say is very difficult, but most children taken to the concentration camps were gassed immediately. So, using this story as some basis of fact would be a disservice to the history of the Holocaust and would minimize the horrors of a camp, trivializing what truly took place in these despicable facilities of death and torture. I’ve even read that this movie is compared to Schindler’s List. I personally do not see a comparison. Schindler’s List is based on fact, and accurately portrayed. My father-in-law’s story parallels what is described in Schindler’s List, and is in fact one of his favorite movies on the subject of the Holocaust. I give the highest praise for Schindler’s List. Joseph almost made Schindler’s famous list, but you would have to read his memoir to find out what happens (wink, wink). He did know many people on that list and therefore it is a story dear to his heart. But, I digress. This blog post is a very good review of the movie The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Much better than I could do! Please read.

Scrapbookpages Blog

This morning I read a review of the book entitled The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, written by Irish author John Boyne in 2006. You can read the review here.  In 2008, the book was made into a movie.

The film was advertised as a “family movie,” rated PG13, which parents were encouraged to take their older children to see. The author of the book classified The Boy in the Striped Pajamas as a fable. Libraries classify the book as Teen Fiction, and the movie producer called the story a fantasy.

A fable is a fictional story that has a moral. For example, the German fairy tale, “Hansel and Gretel,” is a fable: the story couldn’t possible be true because it includes a wicked witch who lives in an edible gingerbread house and cooks and eats little children. Likewise, the story of “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”…

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Book Club Night with the Girls!

Valerie's Book Club

Valerie’s Book Club

If you are following my Facebook page or Twitter posts…er tweets, then you already know that Joe and I were invited to a local book club. They had graciously selected THE ALTERED I as one of their reads for this year and invited us to discuss it with them. First of all WOW! That was a huge gift in itself, what many an author dreams of, really. Of course I know the real star of the show is Joe. People love him. But, I got some nice praise as well.

Valerie was the perfect book club hostess. She introduced us to the group and expressed why she wanted The Altered I to be on the schedule for the year. She had met us last year when she called the publisher, LeRue Press directly to order more copies of the book as gifts for friends and family members. She had initially been given the book on loan, but wanted her own copy after reading it. The publisher (LeRue Press) mentioned that Joe and I could come in and meet with her and sign the books. We had a great time with her and she even brought a friend along.

Joe with April and Valerie at private book signing

Imagine my surprise when I got an email from LeRue Press saying that The Altered I was selected by Valerie’s book club and could we (me and Joe) be available to join the club to discuss parts of it? Of course!! My honor!

The ladies of this club are wonderful, intuitive, insightful, kind, and generous. We discussed the line-up for the year. Next month everyone is reading The Martian. This one is on my own TBR pile. Some of the ladies won’t see the movie until after they’ve read the book–I did see the movie, but didn’t give away any spoilers–I’m good that way. Everyone brings a dish, no one knows who is bringing what, but it is usually varied. I tasted a variety of healthy salads, my favorite little meatballs, which I don’t prepare anymore since my husband is now gluten-free, and some other main dish fare that was equally delicious. They joked that one time they all had brought salads, twelve of them, but all twelve were different, so it was fun. I learned a lot from this group–especially when planning my own book club–sharing, laughing and eating are all important factors.

The group of twelve members, was formed over eleven years ago, and has met continuously to discuss the next great read. Each submits a book they want to read for the year. My husband, Paul, asked them which was the first book they had read as a club and I was surprised (and delighted) to hear it was Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. Since that first book they learned a lot, like not choosing a book over 800 pages long! I confided that as one of my favorite authors she had inspired me to want to write.

After some small talk everyone felt comfortable enough with each other to discuss Joe’s memoir The Altered I.

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My heart was warmed each time there was a section from the book mentioned and the group collectively would recite parts from the text. I felt  joy sitting there listening to them tell Joe’s story. I really can’t describe it accurately, but, they knew him and his experiences from what they had read and it felt dear to me.

I was really happy that Joe was comfortable enough to express himself and tell his own story. Sometimes it just isn’t possible. But, with the love and respect directed toward him, he felt he was able to open up and tell his side. There were some unexpected emotions having Joe present. It’s one thing to read about someone’s tragic life story, and then quite another to have this person sitting at your dining room table! One of my friends said that the book club was in for a treat, but in actuality it was the other way around. I felt that this was a fine gift and it was privilege to be among them. These ladies spent their valuable time and money and invested it in a book I wrote. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

If interested in The Altered I Sample Pages

The Altered I is available in print and Kindle format from Amazon. In Kindle format at Amazon UK, as an e-book from Google Play books, and as a print book at BookBind.net

In Reno, NV as a print book: Sundance Books and Music, Grassroots Books, Buy Local (4001 S Virginia St, Reno, NV 89502 775-224-2242), and LeRue Press (775-356-1004).

In Carson City, NV as a print book, A to Zen Thrift and Gift , and Dog-Eared Books

 

 

Joe and I Meet Winston Churchill’s Secret Agent Max Ciampoli

Joe sitting with Max and Linda Ciampoli. Photo courtesy of Linda Ciampoli

Joe sitting with Max and Linda Ciampoli. Photo courtesy of Linda Ciampoli

Joe and I had the unique experience of meeting Mr. Ciampoli and his author wife Linda at a recent book signing event celebrating the sixth printing of their fantastic book at a local Reno bookstore Sundance Books and Music.

April, Linda and Max Ciampoli Churchill's Secret Agent

But really my first encounter with the Ciampoli’s begins a couple years prior to this fun event. As a member of the Historic Reno Preservation Society I had a chance meeting with my co-tour guide Anne Simone at a local Trader Joe’s parking lot. As we were standing there a petite, attractive woman who also knew Anne joined our conversation. I really can’t remember how it all transpired, but regardless Anne introduced us and Linda handed me her business card featuring the book cover of CHURCHILL’S SECRET AGENT. I recognized it at once because I had recently purchased it! I was excited to meet a local author who actually had a publishing agent and a book contract with one of the Big Five Publisher’s. I pocketed the card and went on my way.

Now fast forward to December 13, 2015 and Joe and I are invited to the book signing event! I found a couple of interviews on YouTube of the Ciampoli’s. You might want to check them out. Running time approximately 12 minutes each.

Linda Ciampoli sent me a couple of photos marking the event.

 

Part One

 

Part Two

The Web site: Churchill’s Secret Agent

CHURCHILL’S SECRET AGENT is available:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

IndieBound

Thanks for checking out this blog and sharing with me a highlight of our year.

 

If interested in Joseph Kempler’s memoir…

Joe’s memoir THE ALTERED I MEMOIR OF JOSEPH KEMPLER HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR is available from: 

Sundance Bookstore

Grassroots Books

Amazon paperback and Kindle

Amazon UK

Google Play books

Old Tales of Nevada with April Kempler Episode 212

Joseph Kempler family photo.

Joseph Kempler family photo.

I’m really excited and pleased to share the interview I did with John O’ Brien host of Old Tales of Nevada, a local television show. I was actually filling in a late notice cancellation, but hey, I’m not too proud! It was a real honor and a treat. I enjoyed it, and was thrilled by the prospect of sharing Joe’s story through this medium. It was my very first television interview, and I hope not my last.

Primarily, the interview had to do with Joe’s memoir THE ALTERED I, MEMOIR OF JOSEPH KEMPLER HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR. Joe was a young boy when WWII broke out in his home city of Krakow, Poland. He and his family had to pack up leave town when he was 13 years old, and by the time he was 14 he was working in a forced labor camp in Rakowice, Poland. He spent the next three years in six different concentration camps, Plaszow and Mauthausen being the most famous. Plaszow was known from the movie Schindler’s List, which parallels Joe’s personal experiences for a time.

Joe’s story isn’t an easy one to hear or tell about, but I’m grateful people want to hear it and have supported me by purchasing the book, liking my Facebook page, and leaving reviews for The Altered I.

I thought I’d share the interview here with you. I welcome your comments, or any additional questions you might have.

 

The Altered I is available in paperback and e-book on Amazon, Google Play Books, and directly from the publisher Lerue Press at 775-849-3814.

The Edge of the World Beckons and I Am at Once Soothed

One of the things that saddened me the most about moving away from southern California, was saying good bye to the ocean. A day trip to the beach was part of my routine growing up, now I have to make special plans to see the sand and surf. Thankfully we have the capability of traveling anywhere we like, so we make it a point to get to the ocean every now and then.

Going on a vacation to a place you really love can be very therapeutic, trust me. I’ve been having some health issues this year, mostly due to stress and tension, but I’m managing with medicinal help. This isn’t really good enough for me. Although I value the medicine I know it’s just a crutch, or a mask. My goal was to get this thing licked in six months and get off the medication entirely, but like all my other deadlines it passed by with a rushing breeze. So, I have to be patient. In the meantime, to remove some of the stress and decompress, Paul and I traveled to one of my very favorite places on this earth, and surprisingly not too far away from home: Watsonville, California.

Watsonville may not sound like a recognizable name to you. It’s a small agricultural town between Santa Cruz and Monterey. We stayed on the Pajaro Dunes along the coast, right on the Monterey Bay. This is a where the magic happens. Pods of dolphins swim and play and surf the waves. Otters search for whatever it is that otters search for right between the breakers.  Shore birds are numerous. I love watching them, they remind me of me running away from the waves trying not to get doused.

Watsonville, CA

This is a gorgeous morning view. I felt an instant calm, in fact, I’m feeling an instant calm just looking at this photo!

We couldn’t pass up an opportunity to vist the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a beautiful and awe-inspiring experience.  The special exhibit is Tentacles, and I have to say it is very cool.

IMG_0828 I believe there is an octopus in here somewhere!

The penguins are always a lot of fun to watch.

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I will be honest, the otter feeding is my absolute favorite part! Otters are the most adorable creatures I’ve ever seen. Did you know otters have one million hairs per square inch? That’s one house cat in one square inch! Amazing.

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Not to be missed are the tide pool areas, including the sandy shore and aviary.

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These gorgeous creatures were in the touch pond area. Although we weren’t allowed to touch this little shark and stingray, we could pet the bat ray’s. I managed to touch one and he (maybe she?) was so soft and velvety, a little smelly though, like sulpher, not sure why. I guess I should have asked, there were plenty of volunteers only too happy to explain things.

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We made it back in time for drinks and a stunning sunset.

Watsonville Sunset

A definite must-see excursion is whale watching. We were told by so many people that they saw whales in abundance. We just had to see this for ourselves, so we headed to Moss Landing to begin our adventure. We managed to see quite a few tails, spouts and humps as the magnificent creatures dove deep, but no breeches. I did see the most magical rainbow in one of the whales spouts. I wish I had a picture of that…We still had an awesome experience and I recommend it to anyone!

IMG_0860 This is another whale watching boat, but I figured this must be what we look out on the briny sea!

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I would have liked to see a whale up close, but we saw many many seals and birds!

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And did I mention how mesmerizing the ocean is by moonlight?

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I couldn’t get enough of this view. I never felt more calm in my life. So, if you can go to the ocean, do so, it is a wonderful balm for the heart.

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“hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”
– Van Morrison

A Wedding Anniversary

We are remembering Joe and Virginia today as they share fifty-two years of marriage. Virginia and Joe daily read a Scriptural text to help them have a spiritual bent to their day. Joe looked down at the date and looked back up at Virginia to say Happy anniversary! To which she replied, Thank you, and went over to give him a kiss. For someone with the kind of memory issues Joe has, this was heart-warming to hear. We wish them a very happy day!

 

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“A Successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt everyday.” – Andre Maurois

You Are Telling an Important Story

Joseph Kempler and his older sister Dziunka (Judy) Laub

Joseph Kempler and his older sister Dziunka (Judy) Laub

Last night I received the sweetest email from a reader of THE ALTERED I: MEMOIR OF JOSEPH KEMPLER, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, and I wanted to share it. I might add that Deb, the writer of the email, is also compiling her father’s memoirs into a book. Reading Deb’s words touched me to the heart. I feel sad that her father had to walk a similar path and endure all the horrible things Joseph did in order to survive, but I feel connected in some way by the shared memories of a father who went through the Holocaust.

To ensure the information Joseph gave me was reliable and accurate I researched diligently, giving all I could to the task. I had to dig deep, so it is always reassuring, and validating when I get feedback saying exactly that! It isn’t that I wrote such an important story, it’s important information that must be related accurately. To speak the truth  is a heavy responsibility for any writer of history, but to track down the facts is equally important for such a topic as the Holocaust. I never want room for doubt that the Holocaust didn’t happen.

I hear often, and honestly it’s too often, how some young people today are being taught by their parents that the Holocaust is a myth, a legend, a fabrication. I struggle to understand this belief. So each time a young person has an opportunity to learn the truth, that is a victory. I encourage young people to read more memoirs of survivors. Not only of Holocaust survivors but read the memoirs of people who saved others who weren’t Jewish and could have been killed. Read the memoirs of soldiers who were there and witnessed it all. There are countless books written by people who were in the concentration camps, not only as prisoners-of-war, but as people who worked for the Nazis and who saw, and sometimes took part, in the atrocities taking place. Also, there were many others imprisoned in the concentration camps who weren’t Jewish but suffered alongside for their crimes against the state. Reading from various viewpoints and backgrounds will give a fuller understanding of that time and hopefully will substantiate that the Holocaust was real.

I realize this is getting more rare, but when a Holocaust survivor visits a  school a student should view this as an opportunity to ask their questions and get answers from the source.

Joseph and I have some upcoming Holocaust presentation events where people, old and young alike, can meet him personally, (shake his hand!) speak to him and feel connected to that particular time in history. Yes, it’s a hard history, which none of us likes, and would rather didn’t happen, but it’s important to keep it fresh in our minds because it truly wasn’t that long ago.

As time progresses and these survivors and soldiers who fought for their liberation die, so does the intensity of that event.

My words seem inadequate so I will let the letter explain everything.

 

(edited)

Dear April

I am reading the book you wrote about your father in law. This is unbelievable, the dates and journey your father in law took was the same as my dad.  My dad was in ghetto in Boryslaw then forced labor then Plashow to Mathausen (dates match up with my father’s transport) to Melk, eventually to Ebensee where he was liberated. My dad met a soldier years later who liberated Ebensee.

In 2007 to the date of his liberation I found his brother’s children. My dad believed his brother was killed in war. When his area was annexed to Russia his brother was drafted. The last my dad heard before he went to Plashow that his brother was severely wounded. After the war he contacted Russian military and there was no record of his brother. Can you believe the Russians changed the spelling of his first name by one letter and because of that he could not be found.

My dad is going to be 90. He still plays tennis goes to gym a few times per week.

You are telling a very important story.  I am humbled by your dad’s experiences. Your book is unique in so far as your father in law acknowledged what he had to do to survive. People don’t talk about that. Very painful.

How is he doing?

I will finish his book probably tomorrow.

Excellent job

Warm Regards,
Deb

 

As always you can find your copy of THE ALTERED I: MEMOIR OF JOSEPH KEMPLER, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle, Google Play Books, LeRue Press 775-356-1004, and announcing The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum store.