Wandering Librarians's Reviews > Lily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer

Lily Renee, Escape Artist by Trina Robbins
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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 of the Kindertransport. The Kindertransport was a program that got children, mostly Jewish children, out of Nazi-occupied countries and to England. Almost 10,000 were able to escape this way. Nine months before World War II began the program was ended. I could be wrong, but I don't remember reading a lot about this in middle grade or YA books, fiction or non-fiction. It's a really interesting piece of history and it was great to hear about it.

Lily got out on the very tail end of the Kindertransport, she was on one of the last trains that were allowed to leave. Although she was staying in England at the home of her pen-pal, she was not treated well. Lily didn't get to go to school, but stayed home and worked for her friend's mother. Lily had never had to do household chores in her life and wasn't good at them. She was given only one meal a day. Eventually she ran away and for a time worked as a mother's helper, companion, even as a nurse, before discovering her parents had made it out of Nazi-occupied Austria and were waiting for her in New York.

It was in New York that Lily applied for and got a job working for Fiction House. The book ends after she gets the job, pretty much, so we don't get to learn about her later life. Maybe because it's a middle grade book, the thought was not to take the story into her grown-up life? There's a little summary at the end, but not much. Or maybe it was just because the most "interesting" part of her life was the escape from Austria.

I'm a big fan of Trina Robbins, and I always love hearing about women in comics, so I definitely recommend this. Suggest it to your kids who like to read historical fiction, even though it's a biography, it reads like historical fiction.

Lily Renee, Escape Artist comes out November 1.
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