Poppy And Her Basket Of Colors

A book for Christmas for Ukrainian children in Berlin

Half of all Ukrainian refugees in Germany are children. To help make them smile this Christmas, we’ve written a German-Ukrainian children’s book. It’s a beautiful story and it will help the children pick up some German while having fun reading. We want to print the book and give copies free to Ukrainian children in Berlin – and to do that, we need your help.

“We need your help to publish this book. If we reach our funding goal, we can print 1,500 books and give them free to Ukrainian children in Berlin. If we exceed our goal, we could send books throughout Germany, or print more copies. Please help us bring this book to life so these young refugees can begin to feel a little more at home here.“

Melanie, Tania and Luise

Support our crowdfunding campaign at Startnext between now and 21 November 2022, and you’ll be helping make Ukrainian children in Berlin smile this Christmas.

The children's book project

Poppy And Her Basket Of Colors // Poppy sammelt Farben

Russia’s latest war against Ukraine has shocked people around the world. Watching the devastating situation unfold, Melanie Bertram, a lawyer, children’s author, and publisher based in Berlin, decided to help. She, her husband, and their three children welcomed a young Ukrainian couple into their home: Tania Maksymchuk and her husband, who had fled from Lviv.

The two families quickly became good friends. And as soon as she arrived in Berlin, Tania began helping her fellow Ukrainians. Having studied German at university, her language skills are excellent, so she volunteered as a German teacher for other Ukrainian refugees. She also answered all their questions about being a refugee in Germany and translated for journalists and employers.

Tania now works at a primary school in Berlin, where she helps Ukrainian children acquire the German skills they need to enter the school system.

Outside of being a lawyer, Melanie runs a publishing house called Chocolate Flowers that specializes in bilingual children’s books. She has released three German–English books so far.

This constellation led to an idea: Using one of Melanie’s unpublished manuscripts to produce a German-Ukrainian children’s book, which they would then give free to Ukrainian children in Berlin. The books would be distributed by primary schools, Kitas, and other organizations and people who support Ukrainian families and children in the city.

“The children have lost their home, they’re traumatized, and they don’t speak German. A German–Ukrainian children’s book would help them make their first steps with the language, and would be a wonderful welcome gift for them.“

Tania Maksymchuk

The story, Poppy And Her Basket Of Colors, is about a girl who goes out one day to collect colors. She finds lots of different ones: the yellow of a sunflower, the red of a robin, the blue of some blueberries, and many more. She puts them in her basket, but then an accident causes her to lose them all. Disappointed, Poppy goes in search of them – and finds them shining as a beautiful rainbow in the sky.

The book is suitable for children aged 3 and up. We’ll be publishing it as a bilingual book in German and Ukrainian. It will be designed so that you can read the whole story in one language, then flip it over to read the story in the other language. All the books published through Chocolate Flowers are printed like this. The “flip” design is inspired by the “one person, one language” approach, which comes from the academic literature on raising bilingual children. Through Poppy’s story, the Ukrainian children will be able to learn some German words. This will help them find their feet in their new situation – and hopefully make some friends, too. After all, the book will also teach German children some Ukrainian!

“This story isn’t just about learning new words. It’s also about having hope that things can and will get better.“

Melanie Bertram

Our supporters

The story is beautifully illustrated by Berlin-based illustrator Luise Ludwig @liese.art. Graphic designers Isabell Grothe and René Tümpel turned the words and pictures into a wonderful book that’s just waiting to be read. The printing will be carbon neutral and expertly handled by Grafisches Centrum Cuno in Calbe, Germany.

Many other Berlin-based creatives are volunteering their time and expertise, unpaid, to support this project: Simon Ruschmeyer from Reframe shot and edited the crowdfunding video (www.reframevideos.com); photographer Anna Cor took the photos for the website and the shop (www.annacor.com); Manuel and Maik Rowinski from MR2 media (www.mr2-media.de) designed the project website; copywriter and translator Jen Metcalf (www.jenmetcalf.com) produced the English translations; and primary school teacher Juliane Vetter provided the accompanying teaching materials in German, English, and Ukrainian (download them for free here). Melanie’s publishing house, Chocolate Flowers, is covering part of the printing costs.

Half of all Ukrainian refugees in Germany are children. This book is intended for them. As a gift to read and enjoy – and to help them make their first steps in a new language in new surroundings.

Would you like to order a copy?

Are you a primary or pre-school teacher in Berlin? Do you work with Ukrainian children in another capacity? Then write to us at poppy@chocolateflowers.de and tell us a bit about yourself, what you do, how many books you’d like, and ideally a link that will let us verify everything. Once the books are published, we’ll bring or send Poppy to you!

Teaching materials

You can download free teaching materials in German, English, and Ukrainian here:

Worksheet 1

Worksheet 2

Poppy Domino

You can download free pictures from the book to color in here:

You can purchase Poppy sammelt Farben or Poppy And Her Basket Of Colors here:

Poppy sammelt Farben // Поппі в пошуках барв-кольорів

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