Vera repeatedly told her children the story of her survival in the woods and often spoke of the vest, as if it were another living member of her family hiding quietly behind tree trunks and branched bunkers. But she had never shown it to them, only alluding to the fact that the vest made it to America too and was somewhere still in her possession. Vera unfortunately passed in 2016. And amidst the turmoil that cleaning through a deceased loved one’s house can engender, Vera’s daughter in law, Babette, the co-creator of this story—discovered the vest, hanging deep in a closet on the house’s third floor.
And so that is how A world with no color began, with Babette’s desire to tell the story of Vera and a small corner of Holocaust history, through an analogy—a world where color is forcibly eradicated and a little girl named “Vee” who is desperately trying to survive it, colors intact.
Babette, who came up with the story’s concept and eventually created all illustrated content, teamed up with her friend Elana, who created all textual content. After that collaboration, the story transcended historic specificity and Vera’s personal journey to also become a story about the dangers of herd mentality and fascist rhetoric (an echo to our current national state), and a story that examines the meaning of tolerance and its global value. It is a story that engages children with significant concepts but dazzles with whimsical illustrations and rhythmic text. Both Babette and Elana are educators-Babette has a Masters in art education and has been teaching in urban NYC schools for a decade. Elana has a Ph.D. in English and taught literature and writing at the University level for 12 years. As educators, Babette and Elana wanted to create a book that children will find riveting, and artistically compelling, but that also would possess educational import —a book that can be used by educators and parents to engage children of most ages with weighty subjects like the Holocaust and fascism.
And it needed to be sociologically current and meaningful as well. A world with no color is a testament to history, to Vera and to her spirit but it is also relevant now—especially now--, with an empowering message that real strength and power can only be sourced in love and acceptance. We also see A world with no color as the first step in a collection of relevant and thought-provoking “Little Vee” stories that are based on Vera (and others like her), including stories about her boat passage to America and her experiences as a young immigrant in the US.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read our proposal and our material. We really appreciate your insight and value any feedback that you can give us, and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Babette Marciano and Elana Hornblass Dushey
A World With No Color: The story of “Little Vee”, a young girl who survived a war with her bright colors intact.
The photograph you see here is of a little girl’s vest. It is made of wool and has been hand mended numerous times-- buttons sewn back, width let out. It is worn, not only from daily use, (as a young girl named Vera wore it nearly every day for years of her life), but also worn with the significant imprints of history, (as a witness to the ravages of WWII on a young Jewish girl). In 1942, Vera was three years old when she fled the Nazis with her parents and hid in the Carpathian forest for the remainder of the war. She wore this vest during the entire ordeal, day and night. Vera survived the war, immigrated to America, and started a family in NJ.