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Lily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer
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Lily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  166 ratings  ·  54 reviews
In 1938, Lily Renée Wilhelm, a 14-year-old Jewish girl, is living in Vienna when the Nazis march into Austria. After a ship voyage fraught with danger from Nazi torpedoes, teenage Lily reunites with her parents in New York and helps her family earn a living by painting designs on wooden boxes. One day she sees an ad in the paper: a comics publisher is looking for artists. ...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Graphic Universe
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How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry  DeutschMaus, I by Art SpiegelmanRabbi Harvey vs. the Wisdom Kid by Steve SheinkinLily Renee, Escape Artist by Trina RobbinsThe Adventures of Rabbi Harvey by Steve Sheinkin
YA Jewish Graphic Novels
3rd out of 45 books — 4 voters
The Rabbi's Cat by Joann SfarThe Complete Maus by Art SpiegelmanWe Are On Our Own by Miriam KatinUnterzakhn by Leela CormanHow to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden
Jewish Graphic Novels
12th out of 82 books — 11 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 407)
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Sesana
I was hoping to like this one better than I ended up. I'm in love with the idea: a Jewish girl who escapes Nazi-occupied Austria and ends up a successful comics artist in America. I would have liked it much more if it had been longer. At this length, there's no real room for Lily Renee's career. That's a shame. I do like it for including the Kindertransport, something that I haven't seen mentioned much in Holocaust related literature. What of Lily's story that is actually here is very good, I ju ...more
Jo
3.5 Stars.

It would have been practically impossible to write one of my usual reviews on this wonderful graphic novel from Trina Robbins because it is so short.
I had drawn and coloured in (within the lines, too!) a sprawling and epic graphic review of this novel and it was spectacular but just as I was about to scan in my masterpiece onto my computer…. It, um, broke. *cough*
So yeah, you’ll have to make do with this bog-standard review.
This graphic novel follows the story of Lily Renee Wilhelm, a
...more
Nick
Really only 3 1/2 stars, but I rounded up for the cool subject matter. A woman who avoided the concentration camps before eventually becoming an artist in the U.S. during the Golden Age of comics...how could that not be a great story!
My only serious complaint about this book is that it covered so little of her career as an artist. As a graphic biography of her early life, though, I found it to be interesting. I'm not certain that kids will find it as appealing. The difficult part will be to get
...more
Yuko86
English review (for italian version scroll down)

Lily Renee is a lucky child: she has a family who loves her and she is very good at painting. But then the Holocaust begins and all changes: in fact, Lily is jewish, her only way to survive is to escape from Austria to England, alone and without money, as a guest in the family of one of her penfriend. But in her new home she is treated as a servant and left without anything to eat. So she has to escape again, but it won’t be the last time: she’ll t
...more
Deb Tyo
Good story!

I think MG kids will like this true story of a young girl who escapes Austria during World War II. Lily Renee faces many hardships after leaving her home.

Told in a graphic novel format, readers will learn about World War II, about Jews in Austria, about Kindertransport, "enemy aliens", and early comic book history.

A section at the end of the book called 'More About Lily's Story' gives easy-reading factual information about topics in the book.

Lots of information here packed into a nont
...more
Alex Baugh
It seems only natural that the biography of a comic book artist should be told in a graphic book. Lily Renée Wilhelms was the 14 year old daughter of well to do Jewish parents in 1938 Vienna, Austria. The family had many friends in Vienna, but when Austria became part of Germany that year, they lost not just their friends, but eventually everything they owned.


In 1939, Lily was invited to by her English pen pal to come live with them. She became part of the Kindertransport before it ended in Sep
...more
Elizabeth
This brought to mind other stories of young girls in perilous political situations - Anne Frank, Marjane Satrapi, Zlata Filipović. As such, there was a strong sense of familiarity to it, though I'd never heard of Lily Renee before.

Lily was fourteen when the Nazis took over Austria and the persecution of the Jews began. She went from wealth to oppression. Her parents sent her via the Kindertransport to stay with a chance acquaintance in England; mistreated there, she ran away and took to nursing,
...more
Tammy
Because of the subject matter I feel like a horrible person to give this book only two stars! I'm sure that Lily Renee is an amazing, strong woman, but it just didn't come across in the writing style. At times I felt more annoyed with her then sympathetic. Also, the title "Escape Artist" made me think she was going to have some horrific escape from the Nazis, but I felt like she just lucked out and was able to be sponsored to England. In the end, everything just seemed to be too perfect.
Julie Anna
I requested this from the library as a possible comic book read on my 52 books challenge, and decided to go ahead and read it even though I had satisfied that category. I'm very glad I did. This comic book is geared towards middle school age but is full of important and historical information. I even learned a few things reading this book. I'm always humbled and awestruck to read about people's stories from the holocaust and WWII and Lily Renee's story was no exception. I didn't realize at first ...more
Liralen
Lily Renée was a teenager in Austria when the Nazis invaded. This slim volume chronicles her escape to England and then to the U.S., where she eventually found work penning comics.

The art is delightful, vibrant and expressive. She's a sympathetic character, which helps, and certainly her story is full of action and the like.

I do wish it had been longer -- as others have said, some of the transitions were abrupt, and the ending cut off with no warning (Lily as young graphic artist...Lily as a gra
...more
Shazzer
As posted on Outside of a Dog:

Lily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer - Written by Trina Robbins and illustrated by Anne Timmons and Mo Oh, Lily Renee is the true story of an Austrian Jewish girl saved from the Holocaust by the Kindertransport, sent to England, and reunited with her parents in America where she eventually becomes a comic book illustrator. All throughout her story, Lily faces danger, oppression and disappointment with an almost stoic grace and goo
...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
One of my favorite historical time periods to read about and study is that of World War II. I also adore graphic novels, so when I saw this one I could not resist. This isn't one about plot or surprising the reader; the publisher's description, like mine, reveals the beginning, middle and end of her story. That's not really what it's about; instead, the focus is on the quality of life she experienced and the success she managed to acquire despite her many hardships.

The art in the novel is beauti
...more
Donna
I'm always amazed by the survival stories that come out of occupied Europe, and Lily Renee's is no different. For such a young girl to have to leave home alone, travel to a foreign country where she barely knows the language and try to ride out the war, it's amazing adults were able to do it, let alone a girl that was barely a teenager. But she did it and it really puts the trials in one's life into perspective. Escaping from the Nazis, then from prejudiced English, traveling to America and then ...more
An Abundance of Books
Featured at An Abundance of Books

Lily Renee, Escape Artist is divided into eight chapters based on significant times in Lily's life. The book also includes a glossary and additional information on some of the different events mentioned. There is also a two page spread of Lily's personal photographs which is a very nice touch. Robbins has an awesome story to work with, but I think the story suffered under page number constraints and unnecessary simplification for the target audience.

Lily grew up
...more
Heather
Review of an advance copy:

This was a quick and interesting account of the difficult teen years of Lily Renee, who had to leave Austria because of Nazi treatment of Jews. She ended up getting to England via Kindertransport, where she lived with the family of her pen pal. Unfortunately, the mother treated her like a servant and second class citizen, and she finally ran away and became a nanny and then a nursing assistant. Meanwhile, Lily has to cope with the fact that she has had no news from her
...more
Christie Hagerman
(CAUTION: SPOILERS!) What a spectacular comic book! Lily Renée is a real heroine, and this biographical portrayal of her life makes her story perfectly inspiring for girls of all ages. We are introduced to Lily as a child, one who is privileged with a social life rich in culture and good friends. As her homeland Austria is thrown into World War II, we follow Lily to England where she escapes the Nazis but endures other hardships. Separated from her family and everyone she knows, she must find a ...more
Wandering Librarians
Lily Renee grew up a privileged child in Vienna, Austria. After Austria was annexed by Germany in 1938, everything changed for Lily and her family because they were Jewish. No longer able to go to her school or play with her friends, things go from bad to worse until Lily is sent away first to England and then to New York. Later, reunited with her parents, Lily eventually began work drawing comic books.

I enjoyed this, and I liked that we got to here a real story about a Jewish child who was part
...more
Betsy
I was asked the other day what kinds of nonfiction trends were appearing in books for children these days. I thought about it. I've a better sense of coincidences than trends. I mean, if there are three books out on the same subject or two biographies appearing about the same person at the same time, that I'll notice. Pulling back and looking at the genre as a whole is more difficult. Still, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that kids today are lucky. When I was a child the biogra ...more
Miles
The biography of the artist Lily Renee Wilheim is rendered in graphic form. The result is a really good little graphic life story with a Holocaust background, yet which is not "about" the Holocaust as such. It provides a quick historical introduction to many facets of the Second World War and the refugee experience, through the eyes of an Austrian Jewish girl from a prosperous family who was rescued by the kindertransports to England, and later was reunited with her parents in America, in the ea ...more
Rebecca
Quick review before the library closes!! Fascinating true story in graphic novel form -- Lily Renee Wilheim escaped Austria during Nazi reign via Kindertransport to England (something I recently learned about from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) and lived on her own before reuniting with her parents in America and eventually making a living as one of the first female comic book artists! Though the art here is occasionally stilted and the fragmented story might have been better ...more
Mary Jo
This book was excellent! It follows the life of Lily Renee Wilhelm, a young Jewish girl in Vienna whose life was changed entirely by the advent of World War II.

She is able to escape Austria for England just before England declared war on Germany, one of the lucky ones. The book follows her complicated journey in England until she is finally able to make her way to America to reunite with her parents. There she eventually is able to move into the comics industry, drawing superhero comic books.

Th
...more
Alyssa (The Shady Glade)
I did enjoy this one, but in the end it was just "okay". It was great story about someone I had never heard of, and Lily went through a lot of trials to get to where she is. The artwork was the true star for me, I loved it. But the storytelling had some major issues. At times lots of detail would go into explaining one event, like the Blitz in England, and then there would be whole sections that felt choppy or glossed over. Especially at the end when Lily finally makes it to America. I also felt ...more
Molly
Jul 09, 2011 Molly added it
Shelves: middle-reader
I read this through netGalley.

Lily Renee Wilheim was a young girl when the Holocaust began. She was evacuated from Austria to England and then to America. After working as an illustrator for catalogs, she got a job as a comic book illustrator. She was one of the only Jewish female comic book artists.

I hadn't known anything about Lily Renee before I read this. It's a low reading level, but the content pushed it into a middle reader. The graphics were appropriately styled like Lily's comic book ar
...more
Jessica
This was a beautifully illustrated story about my favorite era in history to study: the Holocaust. As I read I felt Lily's fear and pain. Her strength and determination is admirable.
Marta Boksenbaum
Nonfiction Graphic novels depicting historical events or periods are popping up in the juvenile literature, and many of them are valuable additions that encourage children to explore difficult or complicated topics in an alternate format. This book fits within this category. Although I did not enjoy it very much, Lilly Renee's biography is interesting, clear and accessible to children. Also, it is very fitting that a comic book writer's life would be depicted in graphic form. The graphic format ...more
Susan
My main complaint was that I wish it had been longer--it felt like a bit of a skim-read of her fascinating life.
Stephanie
A graphic novel that tells the story of a girl who escaped from the Nazis and became a comic book illustrator in the United States.





Excellent book. The graphic novel format is always popular for those reluctant readers. The large, bright illustrations makes the book seems easier to read. The reading level is more appropriate for at least middle schoolers. It could be used as a read aloud in upper elementary though. At the back of the book is a glossary of terms and historical events that will abs
...more
Christiane
In 1938, Lily Renee is living a privileged life with her parents in Vienna. After the Nazi’s take over, life changes drastically for the Jewish Lily and her family. Lily is one of the lucky few children able to escape on a Kindertransport to England. Eventually Lily comes to America where her artistic skill lands her a job drawing comic books! Based on the real-life story of a little known female pioneer in comic books, this is a wonderful, suspenseful graphic novel that reads like fiction. It’s ...more
Derek Royal
For what it is, this is and interesting account of the life of Lily Renee Wilheim, whose work I wasn't aware of before this. The book is obviously written for younger readers, complete with a glossary and explanatory notes, and in terms of its intentions, it's quite successful. The story does seem to come to an abrupt halt after Lily gets her job as a comic-book artist, and I'm a little surprised by this. This book is about hardships, and didn't Wilheim experience any as a female cartoonist? And ...more
Jan
Sep 03, 2012 Jan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: children 9-14 years old, depending on level of maturity
An account of the refugee years of Lily Renee Wilheim, a Jewish Austrian girl who left on a Kindertransport to England just before WWII. This true story is for children, and considerably less dark than Maus, the only other Holocaust graphic novel I've read. The art is quite lovely, but the story is a bit dull and didactic. Still, it's a reasonable introduction for school-age children to the history of the period, as it mentions concentration camps, shows no graphic atrocities, and has a reasonab ...more
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Trina Robbins is an American comics artist and writer. She was an early and influential participant in the underground comix movement, and one of the few female artists in underground comix when she started. Her first comics were printed in the East Village Other. She later joined the staff of a feminist underground newspaper It Ain't Me, Babe, with whom she produced the first all-woman comic book ...more
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From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Female Comics from Teens to Zines Eternally Bad: Goddesses with Attitude A Match Made in Heaven (My Boyfriend Is a Monster, #8) The Drained Brains Caper The Great Women Cartoonists

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