Media & Communications
A Book by Me: Holocaust Series PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Media & Communications
Written by Deb Bowen   
Friday, 15 March 2013 14:53
A BOOK by ME: Holocaust Series

True stories written by children for children

Teaching History, Tolerance, Courage, Compassion, Kindness, Perseverance, Integrity, Cooperation and more.
Announcing a new title in the A BOOK by ME series
#74 The Footstool
The story of a Catholic husband and wife taken from their
happy lives in Poland to serve as forced labor under the Nazis.
Written by Alanna Rumler and illustrated by Jennifer Banks.
Both girls are from Geneseo, Illinois.
Alanna Rumler
Alanna Rumler
The next book to be released in the Holocaust Series is The Footstool by young author Alanna Rumler, illustrated by Jennifer Banks, both of Geneseo, Illinois.
This story was told to Alanna by the granddaughter of the survivor named Jozef Kodyra. Ironically, Jozef was born in the United States and his family moved to Poland when he was a young boy. He grew up there, married Helena and started their family.

Ironically they are not Jewish but nonetheless were taken as prisoners to Dachau Concentration Camp. You can read more about their story below.
It's wonderful the young author was able to meet Jozef's granddaughter named Amanda who passed along his story. Amanda, Alanna and the young artist named Jennifer were able to preserve the story for future generations.

Amanda would like to speak in classrooms in the Quad Cities area to help educate students. If you know a teacher or you are a teacher interested in your class hearing this important story, please contact us today.  She will have copies of this book to sell by April 12.
Sincerely excited about storytelling,
Deb Bowen
Creator, A BOOK by ME

News Releases - Media & Communications
Written by Lora Adams   
Monday, 11 March 2013 12:44

MOLINE, IL – WQPT, Quad Cities PBS, will air the new program, “Stop Bullying with Dr. Jennifer Caudle,” at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 18.

“After our community conversations with our ‘Achieve Quad Cities’ project, we discovered that the top reason given for dropping out of school was bullying,” said Interim General Manager, Jamie Lange.  “As a result of those talks, we felt the next logical step was to see what we could do as a station to convene the many anti-bullying programs in our area and highlight their services.”

WQPT, in conjunction with nonprofits addressing bullying – known as CARE QC (Connecting Anti-Bullying Resources and Education) – has provided community conversations, television programming and a performance of “The Ugly Duckling” by Ballet Quad Cities.

A panel discussion, which was taped Feb. 21, was moderated by Dr. Jennifer Caudle, an anti-bullying expert and an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey- School of Osteopathic Medicine. The discussion featured panelists Angie Kendall, community education program manager, Child Abuse Council; Robin Peterson of Genesis Psychology Associates; Ellie Hoeper, a student and member of “Stomp Out Bullying” Drama Team; and Jerry Jones, a parent and the Chief Operating Officer for the United Way of the Quad City Area.

Jill Myers, associate professor of law enforcement and justice administration at Western Illinois University, has created an interactive survey for parents and children to take together for further discussion about the topic of bullying. The Cyber Safe Cyber Savvy Survey can be found at, along with other resources.

WQPT is a media service of Western Illinois University-Quad Cities located in Moline, IL.

# # #

New book shares Bettendorf restaurant owner’s inspiring story PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Media & Communications
Written by Kristel Ersan   
Monday, 11 March 2013 11:36
BETTENDORF, Iowa – Happy Joe Whitty loves people, and it shows. He loves to have a good time and to make people laugh, and that's just what his new book, “Not Your Average Joe” does.

“Walk into Happy Joe's in Bettendorf, Iowa, for their lunch buffet and chances are good that you might find me there, sitting down at my favorite round table, enjoying a slice of the taco pizza I created and made famous,” Whitty said.

“I will sit there for hours, talking to guests, telling jokes, and waiting for children to come by. Any child passing me will be rewarded with a wooden nickel, good for a scoop of ice cream or bowl of frozen 'Joegurt,' and that child will know without a doubt that they are a pretty special kid. Because Happy Joe said so.”

Readers are sure to love these feel-good stories about a hard-working, good-natured man and his endeavors in business and in the business of making people happy. “I’m not only living proof of the American dream, but proof that the American dream can become a reality for any one of us,” Whitty writes. “This is my story. And yours.”

Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the book is available through bookstores nationwide, from the publisher at, or by visiting, or


New Book Projects Completed for ABBM Series - #52 A Hidden Life PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Media & Communications
Written by Deb Bowen   
Friday, 08 March 2013 15:44
A BOOK by ME: Holocaust Series

True stories written by children for children

Teaching History, Tolerance, Courage, Compassion, Kindness, Perseverance, Integrity, Cooperation and more.
Announcing a new title in the A BOOK by ME series
#52 A Hidden Life
The story of Jewish survivor Michelle Rubovitz as told by
author/illustrator Chloe Marie Gosa of Rock Island, Illinois


This week we highlight our young author and illustrator Chloe Marie Gosa of Rock Island, Illinois. Chloe's grandmother is Dr. Marrietta Castle, a distinguished member of the Holocaust Education Committee of the Greater Quad Cities. Chloe's grand parents lived next door to the Rubovitz family in Rock Island for many years. She has known Michelle her entire life and it's an honor to tell her story through ABBM.

Michelle and her husband, Rabbi Chuck Rubovitz, live in Joliet where he is Rabbi at Joliet Jewish Congregation. Grants are being written through the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities this spring to put this book (and many others as well) into schools in Iowa and Illinois. If grants are received, these books will soon be in the hands of teachers and students.

Today we salute both Michelle and Chloe for telling this amazing story. Through her work at the public library, many students in the Quad Cities know Michelle.  The Holocaust will become more real to them when they read this book.
We encourage other young authors (especially those personally knowing survivor stories or having stories in their families) to embark on this amazing journey of writing the stories for future generations.

Michelle Trop Rubovitz
When Michelle Trop was born on June 2, 1938, her family was living in the small village of Orleanais, France located about 30 miles southwest of Lyon. Her parents, Sonia and Jacob Trop, had moved to southern France in 1936. Before that they lived in Grodno, Poland. Jacob's and Sonia's families had lived in Poland for many generations. Jacob's father, his grandfather, and all his uncles had been bakers there. Although Jacob made a living in Orleanais as a plumber, Michelle later recalled how good he was at baking because he grew up around bakers. She especially remembered that he made a wonderful jelly roll treat for Rosh Hashanah each year after the war.
As more and more restrictions were being placed on their lives as Jews living in Poland, the Trops began to think of leaving. Riots in that country reflected a growing anti-Semitism, and when Hitler took over Germany, they heard about the horrible things that were happening to the Jews there. So, when the Trops moved to France, they thought they would be avoiding many of these problems. In the early 1930s, even before the Trops moved to France, two of Sonia's aunts immigrated from Poland to the Untied States with their families in order to escape persecution.

Between 1936 and 1939 life for the Trop family in Orleanais was a happy one. Jacob's business as a plumber was going well, and Sonia enjoyed being a homemaker caring for baby Michelle. Their home was in a two-story, C-shaped building, with Jacob's plumbing shop downstairs and the living quarters upstairs over the shop. Michelle remembers that beautiful flowerboxes were situated in every window across the top floor.

When German troops invaded Poland in the fall of 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany. Jacob became increasingly concerned that France would fall under Nazi rule, which it eventually did. Of course, being Jewish meant the possibility of being sent to a concentration camp or being killed outright. At that time he decided to go underground and join the French resistance, so he arranged for Sonia and baby Michelle to live with a Catholic family on a remote farm in the French countryside.

Michelle was only one year old when she arrived at the farm with her mother, so she was too young to even remember having lived in Orleanais before the war. She and her mother remained on the farm for the next six years. Her earliest memories are of life on the farm. The farmer's wife treated Sonia and Michelle as part of her family and told Nazi soldiers, when they came to inquire, that both husbands were away fighting in the French army. In order to protect Michelle and her own life, Sonia didn't tell Michelle that she had a father or even that she was Jewish. Sonia knew that if Michelle were questioned by anyone about these matters, she could answer truthfully without any knowledge of either. That's why, when Michelle was question about her father by a Nazi soldier who came to the farm, she answered, "I don't have a father."

Jacob visited Sonia at night several times over those six years, without Michelle ever knowing that he came and went. She happily played around the farm, climbing cherry trees in the orchard and taking care of her baby brother, Charles, who was born on November 10, 1942. Michelle remembered running to hide in the cherry orchard when her baby brother, whom she was supposed to be watching over, fell down an outside stairway. He was not badly injured, but Michelle knew she would be blamed for his fall. After her father returned in 1945, Michelle learned that he had also hid in a cherry tree at one time to avoid being discovered by the Nazi soldiers who visited the farmhouse.

Although Michelle's father rarely mentioned his activities while fighting with the French Underground, he did tell a story about being captured one day along with some of his fellow partisans. They were put into a camp and then were forced to march in a line to what he though was likely a certain death. Realizing what was going on, he began looking for a way out. As the line moved past a small, wooden building, he noticed that a plumber had left his tools and coveralls behind. Carefully sneaking out of the line, he put on the coveralls, picked up the tools and some pipes lying nearby, and walked out of the camp right under the noses of the guards.

In the spring of 1945 when World War II ended in Europe, the Trop family moved back to Orleanais to resume their life together there as a family. At seven years old, Michelle found out that she did indeed have a father. Her first memory of discovering that she was Jewish was when the family celebrated Passover that spring and her father brought out the Matzoh. She knew nothing about Passover, had never seen Matzoh before, and had not tasted chicken soup with matzo balls like Sonia prepared. From that time onward, her family celebrated the Jewish holidays and Michelle began to learn Hebrew.Spring of 1945 was also when Sonia's cousin Mitchell came to visit the family Orleanais. He was the son of one of Sonia's aunts who had immigrated to the United States from Poland in the early 1930s. Michelle remembered being in awe of this handsome American soldier when he visited her home, but she was also confused at first when she heard Sonia call him by name and give him a big hug. His visit was a most happy reunion, but Michelle couldn't understand what was said at that time because her parents spoke Yiddish, a language similar to Germany used mostly by Jews from Eastern Europe. Mitchell had obviously learned Yiddish from his parents. Otherwise, he would not have been able to communicate with Sonia and Jacob at that first meeting. Michelle later learned her parents spoke Polish, Russian, and German, and they read Hebrew.

With the help of Mitchell's family in America as sponsors, the Trop family (with a new daughter Annick, born October 11, 1946) was able to immigrate to the United States in 1950. Today Michelle lives in Joliet, Illinois with her husband of 52 years, Rabbi Chuck Rubovitz. For years they lived in Rock Island, Illinois where Michelle worked for the public library. They raised their two sons, David and Robert there and today have four beautiful grandchildren: Sara Brinna, Jakob, Kyle and Evie.

Deb Bowen
Creator, A BOOK by ME
To learn more about A BOOK by ME...
esther avruch young framed Esther katz - young framed esther schiff - young framed
A BOOK by ME was born to tell the stories of three Jewish survivors from the Quad Cities, each named Esther.  We honor our friends Esther Avruch, Esther Katz and Esther Schiff.  Because of the inspiration they provided, 70 stories have been written or are in process.

I'm asking ordinary children all over the world to use their talents to share extraordinary stories. Many students write about Holocaust survivors, Righteous Gentiles (non-Jews who risked their lives to save the Jewish people), prison camp liberators and other important stories of World War II. Since this generation is getting older, the time to interview them, write and illustrate their important story is RIGHT NOW!
-Deb Bowen

2013 Iowa Short Fiction Award Winners Announced PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Media & Communications
Written by Allison Means   
Tuesday, 05 March 2013 16:45

The University of Iowa Press is pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 Iowa Short Fiction Awards. Tessa Mellas is the winner of the 2013 Iowa Short Fiction Award for her collection Lungs Full of Noise. Kate Milliken's If I'd Known You Were Coming is the winner of the 2013 John Simmons Short Fiction Award. The recipients were selected by Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bride and How to Breathe Underwater.


About the authors

Tessa Mellas's stories have appeared in 52 Stories, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, Hayden's Ferry Review, and StoryQuarterly. Born in northern New York, she lived her childhood in ice rinks and competed in synchronized skating. A devoted vegetarian and environmentalist, she lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and two cats and teaches writing at Ohio State University. Kate Milliken's stories have appeared in Fiction, New Orleans Review, Five Chapters, and Santa Monica Review, among others. A graduate of the Bennington College Writing Seminars, the recipient of fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Tin House summer writing workshops, Kate has also written for television and commercial advertising. She currently teaches for the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and lives in Mill Valley, California, with her family.


About the collections

In the thirteen stories of Lungs Full of Noise, Mellas explores a femininity that is magical, raw, and grotesque. Aghast at the failings of their bodies, this cast of misfit women and girls set out to remedy the misdirections of their lives in bold and reckless ways. Figure skaters screw skate blades into the bones of their feet to master elusive jumps. A divorcée steals the severed arm of her ex to reclaim the fragments of a dissolved marriage. But it is not only the characters who are in crisis; personal disasters mirror the dissolution of the natural world. The sky erupts with feathers as all the birds in a city crash into glass towers. In another story, all the color has drained from the sky and grandmothers believe the whiteness will blind everyone. Orringer says, "Mellas is a visionary, possessed of the ability to take us to worlds we've never imagined but that reveal our all-too-familiar hopes, fears, and vulnerabilities. Her stories are lyrical, laced with exquisite detail and image. They show their intelligence not only through their originality but also, and perhaps more importantly, through their sense of humor. Our children may baffle us, bodies may deceive us, our friends may confound us, but at least, these stories suggest, we are not alone. Tessa Mellas has made our human community richer with this deeply original and unforgettable book."


In If I'd Known You Were Coming, Milliken shows us what can happen when the uninvited guest of our darkest desires comes to call. Whether surrounded by the white noise of a Hollywood celebration or enduring a stark winter in Maine, these characters yearn to heal old wounds with new hurts. In "A Matter of Time," a mother driven by greed unwittingly finds out how far her needs will allow her to go. A hand model surprises himself and everyone else at the birthday party of an old friend's daughter. In "Names for a Girl," a woman evaluates the meaning of the familial stories that we carry with us from birth. These stories about family, desire, betrayal, love, and regret possess that uncanny ability to reveal us to ourselves. Orringer says, "Milliken's stories burn straight to the darkest places in our hearts, speaking aloud the thoughts we hardly dare to call our own. In twelve flawless pieces, Milliken expertly illuminates the aftermath of abandonment; her characters, cast adrift, find themselves painfully alone, futilely seeking what was torn away long ago. Milliken writes with merciless precision about women and men, about the old and the young, about the betrayers and betrayed. You will stay up all night to learn the fates of these people, who will become as real to you as anyone you know."


About the Iowa Short Fiction Awards

The short fiction awards are given to a first collection of fiction in English and are administered through the Iowa Writers' Workshop. The honors are national in scope and have been given since 1969. The John Simmons Short Fiction Award (named for the first director of the University of Iowa Press) was created in 1988 to complement the existing Iowa Short Fiction Award.


The short fiction award winners will be published by the University of Iowa Press in the fall of 2013.

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