Lily Renee, Escape Artist

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Lily Renee Escape Artist book coverWhat the Book is About:

This vibrantly illustrated graphic novel tells Lily Renee’s real life story, from her idyllic pre-war 1930s childhood in Austria through her challenging experiences as a refugee in England and, finally, as she begins her new life as a comic book artist in America.

Jewish Content and Values

  • Holocaust: Lily is a Holocaust survivor, having escaped Hitler and his Nazis.
  • Kindertransport: Lily was able to escape from Austria to England through this rescue operation, which saved about 10,000 children from the Nazis in less than one year.
  • Jewish Refugee Agency at Bloomsbury House: Bloomsbury House, in London, was the central office for Jewish refugees. Here, the Jewish Refugee Agency found homes for the Kindertransport children and reunited families that had been split apart by the war. It is the Jewish Refugee Agency that sends Lily a letter notifying her that her parents are safe in America.

Positive Role Models

  • Lily Renee is a very inspiring comic book heroine! She demonstrates tremendous courage as she travels alone to England, and her resourcefulness is evident as she flees an uncomfortable situation at her sponsor family’s home. As a refugee in England, Lily searches for work and becomes a nurse’s assistant so that her parents can get visas too. After the war, Lily illustrates comic books with strong female characters and uses her artistic ability to fight tyrants everywhere.
  • During the 1930s, Queen Wilhelmina of Holland fed the Jewish refugee children as they passed through her country. She modeled ethical action at a time when it was frowned upon to show empathy for Jews.

Content Advisory

This is a Holocaust story made accessible for young readers through comic adaptation. Although this book is sensitive in its graphic depictions of what people suffered during the war, the following could be emotionally difficult:
  • There are descriptions of Uncle Samuel’s experiences at the Dachau concentration camp, for example, “they made us stand in the freezing cold all night in bare feet,” and mention of his death in Buchenwald concentration camp.
  • There are panels illustrating the broken glass and smoke of Kristallnacht (night of the broken glass).
  • Lily’s mother is shown falling to the floor as a result of being kicked by a Nazi soldier.
  • The epilogue (written in prose, not comics) gives historical background about concentration camps and internment camps and describes in general terms the terrible conditions, suffering, and death of Jewish people.

Talk it Over

When Lily’s Mom suggests she apply for a job drawing comics, Lily says, “But, Mama, I don’t know how to draw comics. I’ve never even looked at a comic book.” But after studying comics and practicing drawing them, Lily not only gets that job, she makes an impact in the comic book world. Have you ever thought you couldn’t do something, but then, after you practiced and tried, you found you could? Have you ever tried something that you enjoy so much, you think it may become your future career?

More for You

Jewish Comic Book Writers:

Jewish cartoon artists and writers held leading roles in the start of the comic book industry, notably Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel (Superman) and Bob Kane and Bill Finger (Batman), among many others. For a great depiction of Jewish involvement in the comic book industry during World War Two, we encourage you to read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, the highly acclaimed (historical fiction) novel for grownups by the very talented Jewish author Michael Chabon.

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