Erika’s Story by Ruth Vander Zee

When I returned home from the LUCY Children’s Conference a few Saturdays ago, I was tired. I put the conference out of my mind until late that evening when a story Christina Diaz Gonzalez told us popped into my head. Gonzalez said she heard Ruth Vander Zee tell it and realized she wanted to tell her own family stories. The revelation led to The Red Umbrella.

I called Z into the room to tell him the story as I believe I heard it from Gonzalez:

K: The story is about a mother and child on a train bound for a Nazi death camp. Gonzalez said the train would slow down ever so often, and one time when it did, the mother threw her baby out of an opening in the roof of the train. A couple noticed something was thrown from the train and went to pick it up. They raised the baby never knowing who her parents were or where she came from. They told her, “Your mother loved you so much, she threw you from a train.”

What is love? What is family? That story blew me away.

Z: Mom, you can’t be human and hear that story and not feel something.

You can read the story in the picture book titled Erika’s Story by Ruth Vander Zee.