Monday, August 3, 2015

FANIA AND ZLATKA remembered in PAPER HEARTS by Meg Wiviott: Review by Polly Guerin

Meg Wiviott's young adult book PAPER HEARTS brings the story of Fania and Zlatka and their friendship through poetry written during the terrible days in Auschwitz The novel is is based on a true story of a bond that helped two teenage girls realize hope for the best in the face of the worst. The book of collected poems also focuses on twenty remarkable young women who conspired through their youth and determination to conspire against the Nazi regime, which classified them as subhuman, forced them to work as slave laborers, and thought of them as nothing more than the numbers tattooed on their arms---yet they conspired to commit an act of great defiance.
     They dared to behave as humans and they dared to celebrate life---a birthday---with a simple gesture that, if they have been caught, could have meant death. Needless to say, after some seventy years after the events, this story still resonates to remind us that courage and youthful optimism instilled a strong resolve in the hearts of these incarcerated young women.Through poetry in verse their plight in the hateful camp becomes a riveting story of fortitude and survival.
MAKING A BIRTHDAY CARD should seem like a simple everyday task but only "an act of defiance," a statement of hope makes this book such a treasure to read, to inspire, and to remind us of indomitable spirit of the youthful poets. Making a birthday card in Auschwitz was all of those things but death marches were real and the slightest effort of defiance was punishable by death.  Yet Zlatka had courage and the determination to create a birthday card for her best friend Fania. She stole and bartered for paper and scissors, and secretly created an origami heart. It was passed along the work tables to sign, which they did with their hopes to find love and happiness but most of all, freedom. It is not known how many of the girls who signed the Heart survived the death marches but  Fania  treasured her gift and kept it secret during her imprisonment, even carried it through the death marches. She kept the Heart with her when she was liberated, and through the years as she rebuilt her life and her family.
Meg Wiviott
This remarkable story lives on in the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, where it is a permanent exhibition, telling its story of defiance, love, and friendship. Thousands of visitors who visit the Centre each year, will no doubt take to their own hearts this remarkable story in verse. Fania eventually returned to Poland, met her husband, and then settled later in Toronto, Canada, where they raised their daughter and son. Fania still lives there today.As for Zlatka, the creator of the Heart, she too returned to Poland, fell in love, got married and moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she still loves today (as of October 2013).
   This is Meg Wiviott's first novel for young adults. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. On sale: 9/1/15
   Fan mail and comments about this review welcome at,

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

INCOMPARABLE COUPLES By Rose Hartman Reviewed by Polly Guerin

Reading Rose Hartman's new book, Incomparable Couples, is like taking a trip down memory lane revisiting the glamorous and celebrated personalities who defined the fashion and social trendsetter era for three decades. The book is populated by people we knew and people we wish we knew. Nostalgia tugs at our hearts as we review the pages of engaging couples at the prime of their celebrity.
   Couples featured in this full-color, beautiful tome include:: Jerry Hall and Annie Leibovitz, Bob Mackie and Cher, Jean Paul Gautier and Lauren Bacall, Peter and Jane Fonda, Bianca and Jade Jagger, Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono, Liz Taylor and her dog, Robert Wolders and Audrey Hepburn, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, and 150 more, too numerous to list here.
    So why should we want to read Incomparable Couples?" The answer comes clear and forthright in the  photographs themselves and I can surreptitiously hear the reader saying, "Oh I remember them, and then repeat page after page, I remember them again, and then sigh. At best Hartman's photographic documentary serves as a permanent archival book referencing artists and muses, designers and muses, family, mothers and children; pets, friendships, models, marriages --images of people we remember and people we wish we had known.
   Hartman, the quintessential photographer of our time, captures beautiful duos, unlikely duos and some downright scary duos. Rose's images are always spontaneous, never staged, that is what makes these photographs so interesting and spellbinding.. Ms. Hartman tips the shutter at just the right moment, capturing a critical moment in a conversation--a pose, a gesture--to present a story abut two people from the world of popular culture.
  Eric Shiner who wrote some of the text wrote, "It might be best to think about Rose as an anthropologist who has spend so much time with her subjects that she has become a trusted, known entity."
   In her presence, celebrities have let their guard down, allowing her to capture moments otherwise rarely   seen. The vitality of the images in "Incomparable Couples" attest to the rare sense of familiarity.  Hartman portrays the humanity in her subjects. instead of their more famous, fashionable shells. :
  Incomparable Couples is published by ACC Editions,  photographs by Rose Hartman, Texts by Eric Shiner, Michael Gross and Rose Hartman, hardcover $49.50 available a fine book stores.
   Who is Rose Hartman? Rose stands as one of the most prolific photographers of our age. As a woman
photographer, she has jumped over every hurdle in a male-dominated world to create a huge body of work documenting the demimonde of fame and glamor in the center of the world of culture. Hartman is a one of those remarkable women who have scaled the heights of success in their oeuvre. She has created a book that has archival value, recording over time, she straddles the boundaries between street photography, portraiture and documentary photography. My hearty congratulations to Rose Hartman for preserving a world of celebrity for generations to come. As Eric Shiner, Director of the Any Warhol Museum said, "It takes two to tango, but it takes Rose to truly dance."
Read this feature on pollytalkfromnewyork.blogspot and also on amazingartdecodivas.blogspot (womendetermined to succeed) or go to and click on the link in the left hand column to either one of these blogs.