Graphic Novel Review: Lily Renee, Escape Artist

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Graphic Novel Review: Lily Renee, Escape ArtistLily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer by Trina Robbins
Published by Graphic Universe on November 1, 2011
Genres: Biography, History
Pages: 96
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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. Lily has never drawn comics before, but teaches herself how they work. She is hired to draw the character Senorita Rio, a beautiful spy fighting the Nazis.

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 beautiful and feminine, looking a lot like a clothing catalog, the kind Lily herself posed for and drew for during her young adulthood. This style fits very well with the story, and gives it an upbeat feel that goes along with the overall message.

This tale touches on the Holocaust, but is not one to read if you want to find out about the many atrocities of that time period. It’s just one Jewish woman’s story, and she happens to have been, all things considered, very lucky, given what could have happened to her. I like the story for its viewpoint and because I learned about the Kindertransport.

I would definitely recommend this as a good entry into studies of World War II and the Holocaust for children, as it is not at all graphic and gives a basic overview of the timeline, explaining some basic vocabulary. The additional materials following the story itself would also be excellent for such a purpose.


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