Author Danica Davidson has released her latest book, a gripping memoir geared toward young readers called I Will Protect You.
The book was created in collaboration with Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor, who shared with Davidson her true story of enduring experimentation at the Auschwitz concentration camp alongside her twin sister while the two were children. Davidson first met Kor in the fall of 2018 when she attended a speech the activist was delivering. As Davidson heard Kor detail the experiences of being a child who lived through Auschwitz, she felt compelled to use her talent for a greater purpose.
“I’d been experiencing increased antisemitism and wanted to do something about it,” Davidson said.
Following the speech, Davidson approached Kor to ask for a magazine interview. When Kor learned that Davidson was also a children’s book author, “she about jumped up at her table and exclaimed that she wanted to do a children’s book,” Davidson recalled. The writer was then “full of ideas” for the project, and Kor was receptive to the manner in which Davidson told her story.
“[Kor] agreed with most of my suggestions, including including historical information and making the book read like a novel,” Davidson said. “I found a story arc, themes, symbolism I could use.”
For weeks, Davidson interviewed Kor, then wrote a rough draft within three weeks. Next, Davidson made edits to the draft based on analyses from Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum, as well as rabbis, teachers and other trusted sources. After handing the finished book over to her literary agency in March 2019, publishing company Little, Brown offered to take on I Will Protect You within three months. Sadly, just over two weeks later, Kor abruptly passed away during an education trip to Auschwitz. Kor’s sudden passing further motivated Davidson to ensure that her story is heard by a wide audience.
“I was gutted,” Davidson said. “This book is her legacy to children, and I’m doing everything I can to get this book out to as many people as possible.”
The seasoned writer started creating her own books as an elementary school student. This quickly caught the attention of educators at Thomas Edison Elementary School, who noticed Davidson’s aptitude for writing. As she moved on to attend what is now Dolores Huerta Middle School, Davidson entered a period in which her writing skills were fostered even further. She says an “encouragement and nurturing” of this talent was shown to her by Anita Schackmann, Davidson’s English teacher. Schackmann “gave [Davidson] full support for [her] writing,” and as a result, this talent flourished and garnered attention from local news outlets.
“After that, I started bringing in novels I was writing and sharing them with other kids at [then] Jordan [Middle School],” Davidson said. “I wrote novels in all different styles, and that’s still true today. The Burbank Leader covered this, and then the Los Angeles Times did.”
When reflecting on teaching Davidson in her sixth grade English class, Schackmann noted Davidson’s standout writing flair, which she has strengthened through dedicated practice.
“Danica Davidson’s talent for writing was apparent with the very first assignment in my sixth grade English class. I realized that she had an amazing gift,” Schackmann said. “While writing has always come naturally for Danica, she has put in time to develop her craft. I am so happy for Danica’s success as an author and pleased to have been a part of her writing journey.”
Another educator who has made an impact on Davidson is Wayne Tipton, who taught her while she studied in his eighth grade social science course. Tipton recalled that Davidson demonstrated “a very sharp wit and a dry sense of humor” as she participated in the class.
“I remember that she was very adept at the turn of a phrase,” Tipton said of Davidson. “She spoke with maturity and a command of the English language that was a bit out of place in middle school. I appreciated her candor.”
Davidson reached out to Schackmann and Tipton when working on I Will Protect You in order to hear their thoughts on the project. The educators read early drafts of the book and provided feedback, and Davidson thanked both of them in the acknowledgments of I Will Protect You.
“Her most recent book, I Will Protect You, written with Eva Mozes Kor, is a must-read for young people,” Tipton said. “There are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors. We cannot allow their voices to be silenced. We cannot allow their stories to be forgotten.”
When she was an elementary school student, Davidson was educated about the Holocast by her father. He informed her that some of their own family members had passed away in the tragic genocidal movement. This exchange aided Davidson in writing I Will Protect You with an audience of ages 8 to 12 in mind. The story is told from Kor’s outlook as a young girl, which additionally made the book more appropriate for children.
“I remember how it was explained to me, and I used those memories for writing this book,” Davidson said. “I also can’t stress how much it helped that Eva was a child when she survived. If I were writing a book for children about the Holocaust and narrating it from an adult’s perspective, I wouldn’t know how to do it. In I Will Protect You, it’s narrated from the point-of-view of a child, with Eva’s childhood memories.”
I Will Protect You has received rave reviews from media outlets, fellow authors and readers since its April 2022 release. Publishers Weekly calls the memoir “powerful” with “passionate conviction,” while the School Library Journal stated that it’s “a valuable purchase for reluctant readers.” One Amazon user wrote that Davidson “did such a great job in engaging the reader and writing this book.” Another shared that they “[weren’t] able to put it down once [they] started it.” As she receives this praise, one of Davidson’s primary goals in the venture remains to inform others about the Holocaust while connecting this to present-day prejudice and propaganda.
“I hope readers come away with a better understanding of the Holocaust and the long history of antisemitism,” Davidson said. “Also, that they can recognize antisemitism in the here and now, and can recognize modern expressions of extremism, conspiracy theories, propaganda and having rights taken away. I hope it helps young readers question things, show empathy, and think critically. I also hope young readers see the strength they have inside of them and that they can stand up for themselves.”
In addition to I Will Protect You, Davidson has penned a dozen middle grade books based on the Minecraft video game series. She has also published comics, a textbook, anime and manga journalism, and how-to-draw manga books, among other writings. The accomplished author advises aspiring writers to cultivate their craft by actively participating in the medium and staying persistent in the face of setbacks.
“The most important advice is to write!” Davidson said. “Write a lot. Read a lot. I started out as a professional journalist in high school and worked my way up. Be prepared for rejections, because all writers get them. I’ve gotten a lot of rejections along the way. Getting your foot in the door is the hardest part. If this is what you want, don’t give up.”
Learn more about I Will Protect You here.
Visit Danica Davidson’s site here to discover her other books.