Classical Music theme 1–Frederic Chopin

OK, besides from book blogging, I decided that I will also start a bit of music blogging, especially on classical music theme.

So how many of you all love listening to classical music? Maybe a few. I play the piano and currently I am pursuing a diploma on the piano. And yes, I do listen to classical music. My iPod consists of all classical music–most of them rather. And since I am currently reading books and no books to blog at the moment, I decided weekly, I will do a music blog, and starting from today will be starting the first ever classical theme blog–starting with Frederic Chopin.

OK….any one who is into classical music knows who Frederic Chopin is.  Here is a picture of Chopin along with a brief biography.


Frédéric François Chopin (/ˈʃpæn/French: [fʁedeʁik fʁɑ̃swa ʃɔpɛ̃]; 1 March 1810 – 17 October 1849), born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin,[n 1] was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for the solo piano. He gained and has maintained renown worldwide as a leading musician of his era, whose “poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation.”[1] Chopin was born in what was then the Duchy of Warsaw and grew up in Warsaw, which in 1815 became part of Congress Poland. A child prodigy, he completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland at the age of 20, less than a month before the outbreak of the November 1830 Uprising.

At 21 he settled in Paris. Thereafter, during the last 18 years of his life, he gave only some 30 public performances, preferring the more intimate atmosphere of the salon. He supported himself by selling his compositions and by teaching piano, for which he was in high demand. Chopin formed a friendship with Franz Liszt and was admired by many of his musical contemporaries, including Robert Schumann. In 1835 he obtained French citizenship. After a failed engagement to Maria Wodzińska from 1836 to 1837, he maintained an often troubled relationship with the French woman writer George Sand. A brief and unhappy visit to Majorca with Sand in 1838–39 was one of his most productive periods of composition. In his last years, he was financially supported by his admirer Jane Stirling, who also arranged for him to visit Scotland in 1848. Through most of his life, Chopin suffered from poor health. He died in Paris in 1849, at the age of 39, probably of tuberculosis.

All of Chopin’s compositions include the piano. Most are for solo piano, though he also wrote two piano concertos, a few chamber pieces, and some songs to Polish lyrics. His keyboard style is highly individual and often technically demanding; his own performances were noted for their nuance and sensitivity. Chopin invented the concept of the instrumental ballade. His major piano works also include mazurkaswaltzesnocturnespolonaisesétudesimpromptusscherzospreludes and sonatas, some published only after his death. Influences on his composition style include Polish folk music, the classical tradition of J. S. BachMozart and Schubert, as well as the Paris salons where he was a frequent guest. His innovations in style, musical form, and harmony, and his association of music with nationalism, were influential throughout and after the late Romantic period.

Chopin’s music, his status as one of music’s earliest superstars, his association (if only indirect) with political insurrection, his love life and his early death have made him a leading symbol of the Romantic era in the public consciousness. His works remain popular, and he has been the subject of numerous films and biographies of varying degrees of historical accuracy. (curtesy of Wikipedia)

OK, Chopin is one of my favorite composers. Since he belongs to the romantic era of the music period, his piano songs are well let’s say, sound romantic–consists mainly of emotions. Some of his pieces are extremely hard but I wanted to play Chopin so badly!!!

OK, so I will list out five of my favorite Chopin pieces of all the time

  1. Nocturne No. 20 in C Sharp Minor

Anyone watched the Holocaust movie called The Pianist? Good movie by the way based on true story. Anyway, this piece was composed in 1830. The piece at first starts with a sad melancholy pace and in the middle, it plays a bit happy. This piece has a haunting effect on the listeners and I am actually trying to learn to play this piece on the piano

2. Etude in E Flat Major, Op 10 No. 11

I like this piece. I haven’t tried this piece yet.

3. Etude No. 12 in C Minor (Revolutionary)

This is a solo piano piece by Chopin composed somewhere in 1831. Apparently, this was composed at the same time during the November uprising in 1831 of failed Polish revolution against the Russians. Chopin used his emotions in this masterpiece which he clearly outlines in the piece.

4. Waltz in E minor No. 14 Op Posth.

I played this piece for my Grade 8 piano examination and I can’t believe that I played this piece. It has a playful dainty tune in the piece, and there were some parts where you have to play fast and some with delicate and playful emotion. Overall , I like this piece

Last but not least…

5. Nocturne in E flat Major, Op 9 No. 2

The most famous piece of Chopin. I think you might have heard this music in the movies.

So, do you like my list of Chopin favorite music?

Find out which composer is for my next week classical theme!


Orange Boy-Book Review

Hello everyone! Long time no see…so I have been pretty much being pre-occupied lately but that doesn’t mean I am not going to stop reading books. This time I read an interesting book called “Orangeboy” by Patrice Lawrence. I just finished reading the book and so here is my review


Orange Boy–Patrice Lawrence


Not cool enough, not clever enough, not street enough for anyone to notice me. I was the kid people looked straight through.


Sixteen-year-old Marlon has made his mum a promise – he’ll never follow his big brother, Andre, down the wrong path. So far, it’s been easy, but when a date ends in tragedy, Marlon finds himself hunted. They’re after the mysterious Mr Orange, and they’re going to use Marlon to get to him. Marlon’s out of choices – can he become the person he never wanted to be, to protect everyone he loves?

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books (2 Jun. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • Genre–Y/A, Family, Social Issues, Mystery and Thriller, Detectives, General

About the Author


Patrice Lawrence was born in Brighton and brought up in an Italian-Trinidadian household in Mid Susses. This meant great holidays and even better food. Shoe found her way to east London in the 90s and lives there with a partner, a teenager and a car called Stormageddon. She has been writing for as long as she has been reading. She loves crime fiction, sci-fi, and trying to grow things. Her ideal mixtape includes drum and bass, Bruce Springsteen and music from Studio Chibli Films. Music can’t help creeping into her books.


OK So first of all, this is young adults fiction book and yeah I normally don’t read such stuff. But you got to admit that the front cover of the book is -a-mazing!! So I was at the book store and I saw this book and the front cover intrigued me and so I bought. Nice right? Anyway, I finished reading the book and I must, it is an awesome book.  This books is kind of like an urban thriller with family drama and social issues, particularly on street gangs, guns and road violence including drug business in the streets of London.

So basically, the main character, Marlon has promised his mother that he will never be like his older brother Andre, known among the street gang and police as “The Bukka”. However, he goes on a date with a girl named Sonya who offers him some ecstasy and when she dies, Marlon gets into the glimpse of the world in which his brother used to be in. His life suddenly turns upside down when he realizes that he is the main target and that a group of thugs are coming after him, seeking revenge. Marlon, who used to be a goody boy now soon exposed to this gangster world, trying to seek answers, why these thugs are seeking revenge from his family.

So here are the things that I truly enjoy reading the book.

  • I love Lawrence’s style of writing–her writing is precise and unique. It actually keeps the reader at a pace and I truly enjoyed her writing.
  • The book mainly describes about the social issues and family drama. For example, Marlon’s mother, who is working in a library is trying her best to become a good mother to her two boys and she was heartbroken when she thinks that Marlon is getting into the gang world that her older son, Andre used to be in. She tries to be a strict mother but at the same time dedicated mother to both Andre and Marlon–which is according to the main character a contrast to the main antagonist D-Ice’ s mother who had abandoned both D-Ice and his older brother Tayz.
  • OK there are some parts that are realistic. Anywhere in the world, if a black man as much as he is from a decent background becomes the main suspect in the police world. A good example is Sonya, the girl that he went out on a date with is a white girl and pills were found on Marlon’s pockets which Marlon claims that Sonya had given to him but the police refuse to believe that.
  • I like this friendship between Marlon and Tish–an extraordinary friendship in which Tish tries helping Marlon.
  • Sometimes I don’t really like the main character–he can be so annoying sometimes!!

So over all, I will give this book

5 Star Rating

Stay tune for my next review!!


The Asylum–Book Reveiw

Hi Everyone! I am back again!

So I just finished reading the Asylum, a Swedish novel written by Swedish author Johan Theorin which is a psychological thriller. It took me two months for me to finally finish the book (since I have been reading other books lately) and finally I finished it! So here goes my review…

The Asylum–Book Review


Paperback: 416 pages

Publisher: Doubleday (October 1, 2012)

Language: English (Original Swedish)

Genre–Thriller, Suspense, Crime.


We don’t talk about sick or healthy people at St Patricia’s. Words such as hysteric, lunatic and psychopath…They are no longer used. Because who amongst us can say that we are always healthy?’ An underground passage leads from the Dell nursery to Saint Patricia’s asylum. Only the children enter, leaving their minders behind. On the other side are their parents – some of the most dangerous psychopaths in the country. Jan has just started working at the nursery. He is a loner with many secrets and one goal. He must get inside the asylum…What is his connection with one of the inmates, a famous singer? What really happened when a boy in his care went missing nine years ago? Who can we trust when everyone has something to hide?


All right, so this story is a chilling Swedish psychological novel, where the protagonist, Jan Hauger, who is a pre school teacher with secrets of his own starts his job at the Dell Nursery where it is located near a mental asylum known as St Patricia’s that holds the country’s most dangerous psychos as well. This novel divides between past and present and the author eventually helps us to get a glimpse on Jan’s thoughts. Eventually, we find that Jan is actually a disturbed young youth who had also being locked up in a mental institution himself when he was a teenager and he has a difficulty of getting connected with the people. He is also on a quest as well–he mainly took up the job simply because he wanted to find someone who is locked in St. Patricia–his childhood love named Alice Rami. Throughout this book, it simply talks about obsession as Jan is obsessed to find Rami in the institution.

So here are the things that I liked about the book

  • I like the writing style of the novel–the writing is engaging and well written.
  • There are some tense moments in the chapters that makes you wonder what is going to happen next.

Things I didn’t really like

  • Despite this being a psychological thriller, I feel it’s not as scary as it sounds like. Not like the Girl with the Dragon tattoo.
  • Cannot feel connection with the characters–all the characters seems to be having flaws.

Over all I rate this book three stars but I do recommend this book though. It has some thrilling sense in it.

Stay tuned for my next review!!!


Zookeeper’s Wife…Book Review

I know I haven’t written a book review for practically a really a long long time. I have been busy with my work and also looking a new prospective so I couldn’t really keep in touch with the book review. I have just finished reading the non fiction book called Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackermann based on a true story. Many of you might have read the book and this is the first time I am writing a review on a non fiction book, having written several fiction reviews. Also has any of you all had watched the movie? I haven’t watched the movie yet and I am really excited to see the movie since I have finished reading the book.

So, let’s begin the reviewing process.

Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackermann


Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 Reprint edition (September 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • Genre–History/Europe/World War II/Holocaust/Jews



A true story in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands.

After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these “guests,” and human names for the animals, it’s no wonder that the zoo’s code name became “The House Under a Crazy Star.” Best-selling naturalist and acclaimed storyteller Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story―sharing Antonina’s life as “the zookeeper’s wife,” while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism. Winner of the 2008 Orion Award. 8 pages of illustrations

About the Author





Diane Ackerman is the author of two dozen highly-acclaimed works of poetry and nonfiction, including the bestsellers “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and “A Natural History of the Senses,” and the Pulitzer Prize Finalist, “One Hundred Names for Love.”

In her most recent book, “The Human Age: the World Shaped by Us,” she confronts the unprecedented fact that the human race is now the single dominant force of change on the whole planet. Humans have “subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” Ackerman takes us on an exciting journey to understand this bewildering new reality, introducing us to many of the inspiring people and ideas now creating, and perhaps saving, our future

A note from the author: “I find that writing each book becomes a mystery trip, one filled with mental (and sometimes physical) adventures. The world revealing itself, human nature revealing itself, is seductive and startling, and that’s always been fascinating enough to send words down my spine. Please join me on my travels. I’d enjoy the company.”

So let’s begin the review. I am going to simply write in point form.

Things I really like about the book

  • Last time also, I wrote a book review, also based on Holocaust but it is a fiction book. This is a non fiction book, based on real events that happened in Poland during the war when the Germans take over the country. Here, the reader will know tits and bits of information and history about Poland.
  • Antonina Zabinski, the heroine of the book is an interesting character even though she is a real person. Ackermann had used Antonina’s diary where Antonina describes her life in detail–about how the zoo which was run by her husband Jan and her was completely destroyed by the war, how the Germans had taken most of their animals (rather stole them), how Jan, her husband had saved close to 300 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto where the Zabinski’s hid them in their empty animal cages, protecting them from the Nazis and in general, her relationship with the “Guests” (the Jewish people hiding) and her son. One could feel her in her shoes as you read on the book.
  • The book also provides a vivid description about the war–including the scene from the Warsaw Ghetto where Jews had been forcibly sent and the liquidation of the Ghetto. It’s like, to the reader, you are learning the history of the war in general. It also talks about the Warsaw Uprising where Antonina’s husband, Jan takes part in.
  • It also talks about the vivid Jewish culture in Poland before the war. How they have their own suburbs with their own language and that most Jews do not speak Polish as their language (most of them apparently spoke in Hebrew or Yiddish).
  • It also talks about the horrors of Nazi regime, particularly the brutality of the Germans during the war. For example, a Pole who is found helping a Jew, even offering a glass of water would be punishable by death. Not only that, Poles are only allowed to go to school till elementary school as Germans are afraid of intellectual Poles and this prompts the Poles to form underground high schools and universities.
  • It talks also about the starvation, diseases, people losing everything including a house during the war, which prompts people to eat even cats and dogs. Very shocking and depressing to read that part.
  • Overall, I envy Antonina Zabinski’s role, as a mother and wife and friend during the war, how she protect her family as well as the “Guests” and her courageous wit that stands out in the novel. Even her husband, Jan had complimented his wife.
  • Zookeeper’s Wife is an amazing book, well researched with deeply moving moments. The book is enriched with historical information that certain audiences reading this book will learn.

Things I didn’t like…

  • Too many details about the animals. I mean I understand that Jan and Antonina Zabinski family are zookeepers with the interest in animals in their hearts but I think Ackermann had written too much details about the animals in certain chapters prompting to change the main theme of the book.
  • Too many horrifying details. It can be real but still it gives the reader an uneasy feeling.
  • There are some parts in the book which are extremely boring, that made me want to skip (though I didn’t skip eventually). Too much of irrelevant details.
  • Even though Ackermann had simply summarized what happened to the Zabinskis after the war, I wish she could have simply outline how many people the Zabinskis had saved during the war, what some of these people are actually doing after the war, whether they left Poland or remained in Poland. I also wished she had done more research on what happened to Zabinski’s children.
  • Ackermann used too much of flourishing descriptions i.e. sometimes I had to remind myself that I am reading a non fiction and not a fiction book.

Overall my rating for Zookeeper’s Book is…


It’s not really a great book but it’s OK.

So if any of you all are interested, read the book. I am going to watch the movie later…


Until then, have a nice weekend everybody!!! xoxo

Just for your interest, I have pasted an article here.



What were Jan and Antonina Zabinski’s exact roles at the Warsaw Zoo?

Prior to and during WWII, Antonina’s husband Jan was the director and organizer of the Warsaw Zoo, one of the largest zoos in Europe at the time. He was a zoologist and zootechnician by trade, in addition to being a scientist and an author of books about biology and animal psychology. During the occupation of Poland he also held the title of superintendent of the city’s public parks from 1939-1945. His job with the parks gave him the opportunity to enter the Warsaw Ghetto to inspect the flora there, while at the same time connecting with prewar Jewish friends and colleagues to help them escape.

The Zookeeper’s Wife true story reveals that Antonina Zabinski was a teacher and respected author who published children’s books about animals. She also had an affinity for the piano and painting. She assisted with the day-to-day operations at the zoo, including caring for the animals. During the occupation, she and their young son Ryszard fed and cared for the fleeing Jews who they had given shelter to at the zoo. Author Diane Ackerman drew in part from Antonina’s diary for her book on which the movie is based.

Antonina Zabinski and Jan Zabinski Warsaw ZooThe real Antonina Zabinski (left) and husband Jan Zabinski (right) displaying their love for animals.

Can I read Antonina Zabinski’s diary?

Author Diane Ackerman based her book largely on Antonina Zabinski’s diary (memoir), which Ackerman discovered during her initial research. Antonina’s memoir was published in 1968 under the title Ludzie i zwierzęta (People and Animals). At times, it’s hard to tell which quotes in The Zookeeper’s Wife book are copied verbatim from the diary and which are conversations that Ackerman has re-imagined. Should an English version of Antonina’s diary become available, we’ll place a link to it here.

Were Antonina and Jan Zabinski atheists?

Jan was but his wife was not. The real Zookeeper’s Wife, Antonina (born Antonina Erdman), was a Russian-born Pole who lost her parents in the early days of the Russian Revolution at the hands of the Bolsheviks. She was raised a strict Catholic and both of her children (Ryszard and Teresa) were baptized. She always wore a religious medallion around her neck and it is believed that she prayed.

Her husband Jan was a bit of an anomaly, a Polish Catholic raised in a working-class Jewish neighborhood with a devoutly Catholic mother and a father who brought him up as a firm atheist. Taking after his father, Jan frowned upon religion. Together, Antonina and Jan leaned more toward a Bohemian lifestyle, often surrounding themselves with artists and intellectuals.

Was Antonina and Jan’s home filled with animals?

Yes. A rotating variety of animals could often be found in the Zabinski home, including a wolf cub, a chimpanzee, a lion kitten, a kissing rabbit named Wicek, and a muskrat. Of course, they also had more conventional animals too, including their “sluttish” cat Balbina.

Antonina Zabinski with AnimalsThe real Zookeeper’s Wife, Antonina Zabinski (top), cuddles two large cats. Actress Jessica Chastain (bottom) imitates Zabinski’s love for animals in the movie.

Was the damage to the Warsaw Zoo as bad as what’s seen in the movie?

Yes. In researching The Zookeeper’s Wife true story, we learned that the Nazis’ September 1939 invasion of Poland and bombing of Warsaw left much of the zoo destroyed. In her book, Diane Ackerman describes the damage to the zoo in grave detail, stating, “The sky broke open and whistling fire hurtled down, cages exploded, moats rained upward, iron bars squealed. . . . Wounded zebras ran, ribboned with blood, terrified howler monkeys and orangutans dashed caterwauling into the trees and bushes, snakes slithered loose, and crocodiles pushed onto their toes and trotted at speed.” She goes on to describe the shocking sight of two giraffes laying dead on the ground with their legs twisted, and the sound of birds and monkeys screeching in a chorus of madness. Surviving animals fled from burning cages and some were burned to death. One reason that the zoo was targeted was due to a Polish anti-aircraft battery being located nearby.

Was Jan Zabinski really a member of the Polish resistance?

Yes, Jan was a member of the resistance from the beginning. He acted as a biology teacher at an underground university. He used the zoo as a weapons depot and smuggled food into the Warsaw Ghetto and people out. After the war, Antonina learned that her husband Jan, a lieutenant in the resistance, was more deeply involved than she had realized, finding out that he was also sabotaging trains, building bombs, and poisoning the pork that was being sent to the German soldiers. For another engaging look at resistance fighters in WWII, check out our research into the movie

Jan Zabinski and Johan HeldenberghThe real Jan Zabinski (left) was a member of the Polish resistance. Johan Heldenbergh (right) portrays Zabinski in The Zookeeper’s Wife movie.

Is Daniel Brühl’s character, Lutz Heck, based on a real person?

Yes. The real Lutz Heck was the renowned director of the Berlin Zoo and a prewar colleague of Jan Zabinski. Supported by leading Nazi member Hermann Göring, Heck set out to eliminate animals the Nazis deemed racially degenerate, much like the Nazis’ plan for humans. His ultimate goal was to use selective breeding to resurrect extinct purebred animals. Through this “breeding back,” Heck created breeds of horse and cattle, which were later termed “Heck horse” and “Heck cattle.” Though Heck believed these horse and cattle were nearly identical in phenotype to certain extinct species, today they are not seen as a successful resurrection.

Did they really hide their “guests” in the zoo’s animal cages?

Yes. The Nazi bombing of Warsaw in September 1939 left the zoo severely damaged and many of its cages emptied of animals. The Zookeeper’s Wife true story confirms that the Zabinskis used the cages to hide fleeing Jews and partisans. They also hid them in the underground pathways connecting the animal cages. Jan and Antonina even welcomed close to a dozen Jews into their two-story home on the zoo’s grounds, hiding them in rooms and closets. Regardless of the ever-present danger they were placing themselves in, Antonina was insistent on keeping a festive, music-filled atmosphere throughout their Bauhaus-style villa. It was a much needed distraction from the ongoing threat of the Nazis learning their secret, which would invariably lead to torture and death, not just for them but for their young son Ryszard as well.

Jan and Antonina Zabinski Villa Warsaw ZooTop: The real Villa that the Zabinskis called home on the grounds of the Warsaw Zoo. Bottom: The villa as depicted in The Zookeeper’s Wife movie.

Did German Lutz Heck really have a crush on Antonina?

Yes. In The Zookeeper’s Wife movie, Nazi Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl) protects the couple in part because he has a crush on Antonina (Jessica Chastain). In real life, Heck, a fellow zoologist, had been a former colleague of Antonina’s husband Jan. They had regularly seen Heck at annual meetings of the International Association of Zoo Directors. In The Zookeeper’s Wife book, Diane Ackerman writes that the men at the meetings were impressed by Antonina’s “smarts and willowy looks,” including Heck who was “sweet on Antonina.” She goes on to say that Antonina wondered if Heck wanted to help them so that she would see him as her medieval knight coming to protect her, a romantic gesture to “win her heart and prove his nobility.” Antonina had heard from a mutual friend that she had reminded Heck of the first woman he truly loved.

Did Nazi Lutz Heck and his SS friends really kill animals at the Warsaw Zoo for fun?

Yes. According to Diane Ackerman’s book, Lutz Heck first promised the Zabinskis he would protect what little remained of the Warsaw Zoo. However, in a moment of drunken revelry on New Year’s Eve, he and his SS buddies murdered some of the animals for sport. In fathoming how Heck, a zookeeper himself, could kill these animals, it is believed that he did so in order to impress and win favor with the higher ranking Nazis. In her diary, Antonina commented, “How many humans will die like this in the coming months?” Other animals, including one of the Warsaw Zoo’s main attractions, Tuzinka the elephant, were taken to German zoos, with the best and rarest animals taken for breeding purposes, including for Heck’s plan to “resurrect” extinct purebred species.

Lutz Heck and Daniel BrühlLike in the movie, the real Lutz Heck (left) shot animals at the zoo in order to impress his SS friends. Daniel Brühl (right) portrays Heck in the film.

Did Antonina’s husband turn the zoo into a pig farm in order to keep it running and maintain it as an integral part of the resistance?

Yes. With many of the Warsaw Zoo’s animals gone, either having been killed, moved to German zoos, or escaped during the Nazi bombing of Warsaw, Jan decided to turn the zoo into a pig farm to keep it running and maintain it as a valuable part of the resistance. He smuggled pig meat into the Warsaw Ghetto, something the Jews had allowed themselves to eat due to the Nazi starvation policy of 187 calories per day. -The Zookeeper’s Wife book

How many people did Antonina and Jan Zabinski help?

They managed to help approximately 300 men, women and children, both partisans and Jews. Most were seeking refuge as they attempted to flee Nazi-occupied Warsaw and the German-Soviet occupation of Poland. Like in The Zookeeper’s Wife movie, Jan personally smuggled some of them out of the Warsaw Ghetto himself and over to the Aryan side. He would provide them with papers, find accommodations for them, and if necessary, hide them on the grounds of the zoo or in his own personal villa with his family. To smuggle them into the zoo, he would hide them in barrels and cover them in garbage intended for the pigs.

His wife Antonina would help to protect them. In one instance, she attempted to dye a family’s hair blond in order to hide their black hair that could reveal they were Jewish. However, their hair turned out brassy red, which led the family, the Kenigsweins, to be given the code name “Squirrels.”

Did Antonina really communicate with her Jewish guests at the zoo using music?

Yes. Antonina used musical code to communicate with her Jewish guests. She played “Go, Go to Crete!” to indicate that danger was close and to remain quiet, and another tune to let them know that the danger was gone.

Antonina Zabinski and Jessica ChastainThe real Antonina Zabinski (left) used music to convey to her guests that danger was near.

Did Antonina assign animal code names to her “guests” at the zoo?

Yes, in order to hide their Jewish names, Antonina gave her guests animal names. For example, the Zabinskis’ friend and sculptor Magdalena Gross was given the name “Starling” because according to Diane Ackerman’s book, Antonina “pictured her ‘flying from nest to nest’ to avoid capture.” Ironically, she in turn gave many of the animals she brought into her residence people names.

Did a German soldier trick Antonina into believing he was taking her son behind the house to execute him?

Yes. The real Zookeeper’s Wife, Antonina Zabinski, wrote about this moment in her diary. A German soldier barked an order at a 15-year-old assistant at the zoo and disappeared with him behind the house. A shot was heard and the soldier re-emerged and yelled at Antonina’s son Ryszard, “You’re next!” As he took Ryszard behind the house, Antonina began to tremble with fear. Another shot rang out and the soldier returned with the two boys and a dead chicken. “We played a nice trick on you,” the soldier said laughing.

For how long did they use the zoo as a hiding place for fleeing Jews?

They sheltered escaping Jews and partisans for roughly three years, offering help to approximately 300 people. They saved them from starvation in the Warsaw Ghetto and eventual deportation to Nazi death camps.

Was Antonina’s husband Jan really taken prisoner by the Nazis?

Yes. In August and September 1944, Jan Zabinski fought alongside fellow members of the Polish underground as part of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa) in the Warsaw Polish Uprising. During its suppression, Zabinski was captured and taken to Germany as a prisoner. His wife Antonina and son Ryszard (whose name means lynx in Polish) continued the efforts to give shelter to and care for the hidden Jews. Like in The Zookeeper’s Wifemovie, Jan survived the Nazi prison camp and eventually reunited with his family. In 1968, the state of Israel honored both Antonina and Jan as “Righteous Amongst the Nations.”

Val Maloku in Zookeeper's Wife and Real Ryszard ZabinskiThe real Ryszard Zabinski (right, circa 2009) helped his mother continue to care for the Jews at the zoo after his father was taken prisoner by the Germans following the Polish Uprising. Child actor Val Maloku portrays Ryszard as a boy in the movie.

Did all of the people who sought safe haven at the Warsaw Zoo survive?

Amazingly, the true story reveals that all but two of the approximately 300 people who found refuge at the zoo survived the war.

Why did the Zabinskis risk their lives to help others?

Jan was a natural risk-taker who was raised around Jews and knew many. He was courageous and able to keep his cool. Regarding his motives, he wrote, “I do not belong to any party, and no party program was my guide during the occupation… My deeds were and are a consequence of a certain psychological composition, a result of a progressive-humanistic upbringing, which I received at home as well as in Kreczmar High School. Many times I wished to analyze the causes for dislike for Jews and I could not find any, besides artificially formed ones.”

His wife Antonina, portrayed by Jessica Chastain in the movie, was very much the opposite. She was high strung and often fearful, in part because her parents had been killed by the Bolsheviks and she knew the realities of political violence all too well. In The Zookeeper’s Wife book, author Diane Ackerman reasons that Antonina’s love for animals and her ability to see all life as precious led to her wanting to do whatever she could to help save lives. Despite her fears, she could not turn her back on suffering. This is emphasized later when she recalled the evening when the Kenigswein family showed up at the zoo looking for help. “I looked at them with despair; their appearance and the way they spoke left no illusions. … I felt an overwhelming sense of shame for my own helplessness and fear.” -Polscy Sprawiedliwi

Antonina Zabinski and Jan Zabinski Feeding a BirdLeft: Antonina and Jan Zabinski in the years after World War II. Right: Johan Heldenbergh and Jessica Chastain portray the couple in the movie.

When did the zoo reopen?

The Warsaw Zoo officially reopened in 1949 with some of its old animals that survived the war. But with Stalinism casting a shadow over the grounds, it had lost its prewar luster. Antonina’s husband Jan resigned as director two years later. The zoo would not shine again until after the fall of Communism in Poland in 1989, nearly two decades after Antonina’s death in 1971.




The Boy in Striped Pyjamas–Book Review

Hey! I know I haven’t posted a book review for a very long period of time and so now I am back posting! It’s that, I have about ten books to read and I just finished reading one of the books–The Boy In Stripped Pyjamas by John Boyne

So I am going to start my first book review after what like weeks???



Paperback: 215 pages

Publisher: David Fickling Books; Reprint edition (October 23, 2007)

Language: English

Genre–Holocaust, Family, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Prejudice and Racism


About the Author


John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971 and is the author of seven novels for adults and three for children. The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas won two Irish Book Awards, was shortlisted for the British Book Award, reached no.1 on the New York Times Bestseller List and was made into an award-winning Miramax feature film. His novels are published in over 45 languages. He lives in Dublin.


OK, so let me tell you something, I have always been fascinated with World War II stories including Holocaust. I have learned about Holocaust in history and also about Nazis and Hitler and I have always intrigued about Holocaust. It also makes me sad that there was a period of time when being a Jew, or gay or communist means a death sentence to each of them. I have watched the movies The Pianist, The Schindler’s List as well as The Boy in Striped Pajamas movie and the way Nazis treated the Jews is utterly horrifying. Reading Anne Frank’s Diary also showed what life is really for a Jew during the Holocaust time.

This book is mainly based on a nine-year old Bruno’s perspective during World War II. His father is a Nazi Commandant who was being sent to Auschwitz to look after the camp. Little Bruno does not understand why they had to leave the comfort of their house in Berlin and move to “Out With” which is the way Bruno pronounces and which is of course Auschwitz. Bruno eventually befriends a prisoner named Schmuel who shares the same birthday as Bruno and who instantly become best friends.

The author has used the eyes of a nine year old to tell about the horrors of Holocaust also showing the naivety of Bruno. Bruno admires his father and thinks of him as a hero. He does not understand why Schmuel looks sad. He does not understand why people on the other side of the fence are wearing striped pajamas. He doens’t know who “the Fury” is (we all know it’s The Fuhrer who is Hitler) But through these curiosity of a naive nine year old, horrors of Holocaust can be seen as well–the way the younger Nazi solder, Lieutenant Kotler treats Pavel and Schmuel (who is clearly afraid of Kotler) and the way the children are taught to hate the Jews. That’s Nazism and it was actually horrifying. Boyne has cleverly and beautifully written a sensitive topic of Holocaust. The ending of the book was too sick, too sad, knowing what is actually happening to them inside the room they were locked in and for a moment, my heart stopped for a second, secretly crying. It was too emotional and captivating

However there are some certain things that I felt that the story is unbelievable.

  • Bruno always steals food to give to Schmuel and is away for longer periods of time–wouldn’t his mother notice?
  • As far as I know, Jews or prisoners at Auschwitz were not allowed to loiter around the camp, including to be near the fences.

Over all my rating for the book will be


If you are interested in historical fiction and want to read books based on Holocaust, specially written for children, then this book is for you.


“Sitting around miserable all day won’t make you any happier.”

“What exactly was the difference? he wondered to himself. And who decided which people wore the striped pajamas and which people wore the uniforms?”

“He looked down and did something quite out of character for him: he took hold of Shmuel’s tiny hand in his and squeezed it tightly.
“You’re my best friend, Shmuel,” he said. “My best friend for life.”


Hope you like my review!