Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lily Renee, Escape Artist: from Holocaust survivor to comic book pioneer

Lily Renee, Escape Artist
from holocaust survivor to comic book pioneer
Written by Trina Robbins
Illustrated by Anne Timmons and Mo Oh
Published by Graphic Universe
Ages 8-12 yrs

Born to a fairly well-off, Jewish family in Vienna, Lily Renee Wilhelm, the only child of her parents, had the best of everything in the world, growing up. She was a talented artist, and when still very young, her paintings had been exhibited at an art gallery. Life was good. Until it all changed in March 1938, when the Nazi army invaded Austria.

The anti-Jew policies of the Nazis slowly infiltrated their lives, soon making normal life untenable. In November 1938, after Kristallnacht (10th November 1938) Britain, established an understanding with Germany - the Kindertransport Association - which could freely take Jewish children under the age of 17 from mainland Europe to safety in the British isles, as long as someone from Britain could sponsor them. Thousands of children were transported between the first batch on 1st December 1938 and the last one on 14th May 1940, when mainland Europes's borders were finally closed. Though these children were saved, families were torn asunder, many of them never reuniting.

At the age of 14, Lily Renee was taken to Britain by the Kindertransport, and although she had been sponsored by her pen-pal's family, had to suffer many hardships at that tender age, as her friend's mother treated her like a slave when the others were out. She had to escape, and live by her wits, even getting arrested at a crucial point.

What happens then? Does she get reunited with her parents? How does she become a pioneer in comic books? What is her journey?

That is what this book is all about - not only about Lily Renee's life from almost certain death to fame as a comic book pioneer, but also a gentle introduction to the horrors of the Holocaust, which is dealt with here without becoming too graphic, graphic novel format notwithstanding. And what better medium for telling Lily's story?

Image credit: Goodreads.

1 comment:

sathish said...

Sandhya, Thanks for this review.. I am intrigued to find artworks by Lily Renee.

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