From left to right: Gail Danziger Klein, illustrator Patricia Hardwick, Ann M. Leis

New Children’s Book Explains the Holocaust Through a Child’s Eyes

Based on a true story, authors Ann M. Leis and Gail Danziger Klein recount Gail’s mother’s experiences during a tragic time in history — the Holocaust. Inspired by a family photograph, Ann and Gail tell a story not only of hope but also of the strength and courage it took to overcome immense hardship.

Little Renee, a vibrant eight-year-old Jewish girl living in Hungary, takes readers on a journey through history — from her days of dancing and singing with butterflies near her cozy home, to the wake and reign of Adolf Hitler. Renee uses her imagination and love of music while confined to the ghetto, and eventually Auschwitz concentration camp, to distract her from the surrounding atrocities.

Music of the Butterfly: A Story of Hope allows children to view life through Renee’s eyes — a child living through the Holocaust who remained hopeful of a brighter future.  Although life can be unfair, this book teaches children the importance of never losing hope even when faced with bullies and incredible obstacles.

The colorful illustrations guide readers through the metamorphosis of a butterfly as they are simultaneously led through Renee’s challenging yet triumphant journey. Young readers will learn the importance of keeping hope alive, standing up for what is right, and the knowledge that tomorrow can bring a better day.


“This charming book has many lessons for young readers, the most important of which is to let your imagination fly, as it will keep hope alive even in the darkest of days…Music of the Butterfly is an important addition to Holocaust literature for the young, and should be a go-to resource for parents and teachers seeking to make this difficult subject understandable to children.”

– Fred Zeidman, former Chairman of the Board, U.S. Holocaust Museum, Washington, D.C.​

“This is a story that flows around you as a reader or listener, as the music of hope and Renee’s dreams come together in beautiful tones throughout.  This is a story, written with love and respect, meant to make us think.” 

– Dr. Mary Lee Webeck, Director of Education, Holocaust Museum Houston

Music of the Butterfly tells us that love can conquer hate, that hope can diminish fear, and that resilience can be the difference between success and failure and even life and death. This is a book for all ages – for young readers to begin to learn the lessons of life and for older readers to be reminded of them.” 

– Principal Jeanne Goka-Dubose, Ann Richard’s school for Young Women Leaders.

“This touching story reminds us of the power of hope and the beautiful places our imagination can take us. Students will be able to relate to Renee’s journey and fears while learning about the difficult realities of children during the Holocaust.”

– Sehba Ali, Superintendent of KIPP Houston Public Schools​

“It’s sad, but amazingly inspirational.” 

– Isabella Caruso, 5th grader, River Oaks Baptist School

ANN M. LEIS is a freelance writer and registered nurse. She has served as associate editor and has written many articles for Doll News, an international journal published by the United Federation of Doll Clubs. Ann volunteers for children’s charities and is on the advisory board of Holocaust Museum Houston. Ann lives in Houston, Texas.

GAIL DANZIGER KLEIN is Renee’s oldest daughter. She was a high school French teacher, a docent at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, co-chairwoman of the Jewish Community Center Book Fair, and has served on numerous community boards. A founding member of Holocaust Museum Houston, Gail has held many positions with the organization since 1989 and served as Museum Chairperson in 2015-2016. She is married with two sons.

About Staff

They call me "NewsHound IV," because I'm a clever Finnegan, sniffing out stories all over the Boulder area. I love Jewish holidays because the food is GREAT, especially the brisket. Well all the food. I was a rescue pup and glad to be on the scent!

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