Lily Renée, Escape Artist

From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer

  • Interest Level: Grade 5 - Grade 8
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

In 1938, Lily Renée Wilheim is a 14-year-old Jewish girl living in Vienna. Her days are filled with art and ballet. Then the Nazis march into Austria, and Lily’s life is shattered overnight. Suddenly, her own country is no longer safe for her or her family. To survive, Lily leaves her parents behind and travels alone to England.

Escaping the Nazis is only the start of Lily’s journey. She must escape many more times—from servitude, hardship, and danger. Will she find a way to have her own sort of revenge on the Nazis? Follow the story of a brave girl who becomes an artist of heroes and a true pioneer in comic books.

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Interest Level Grade 5 - Grade 8
Reading Level Grade 6
Genre Graphic Novels, Social Studies
Copyright 2011
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Graphic Universe ™
Language English
Number of Pages 96
Publication Date 2011-08-01
Reading Counts! Level 3.8
Text Type Fiction—Historical
BISACS JUV004010, JUV016040
Dewey 940.53'18092
Graphics 1-color illustrations, Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 6.375 x 9.25
Lexile 510
ATOS Reading Level 4.2
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 145941
Accelerated Reader® Points 1.0
Features Afterword, Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Glossary, Original artwork, Reviewed, and Timeline

Author: Trina Robbins

Writer and feminist herstorian Trina Robbins wrote books, comics, and graphic novels for over 40 years. Her work includes The Brinkley Girls (Fantagraphics), Forbidden City: the Golden Age of Chinese Nightclubs (Hampton Press), and the three-part YA series Chicagoland Detective Agency for Graphic Universe™.

Illustrator: mo oh

Illustrator: Studio C10

Illustrator: Anne Timmons

Anne was born in Portland, Oregon, and received her BFA from Oregon State University. In addition to her collaboration with Trina Robbins on the Lulu Award-winning GoGirl!, Anne's work includes the Eisner-nominated Dignifying Science and Pigling: A Cinderella Story for Lerner's Graphic Myths and Legends series. She has illustrated and painted covers for children's books and provided interior and cover art for regional and national magazines, including Wired, Portland Review, and Comic Book Artist. Anne's art also appears in the anthology 9-11: Artists Respond and is now in the Library of Congress.


  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2012


Jewish Book World

“This is a book about determination, hardship, and overcoming adversity. There aren’t many Holocaust-themed books that have a happy ending, which makes this one all the more pleasurable to read.” —Jewish Book World

The New York Times Book Review

“This is a smart little biography that will appeal to history buffs, comic book fans and anyone who likes a gutsy, pioneering heroine.” —The New York Times Book Review


“A distinctive and useful visual portrayal of an inspirational true story, this graphic novel offers a great deal as an educational tool.” —VOYA

School Library Journal

“Like the comic books that Lily Renée Wilheim drew in the 1940s as a pioneer woman in a male-dominated industry, this biography is a tale of peril and suspense.” —School Library Journal


“With this graphic biography, Robbins, who has worked hard to bring attention to women cartoonists, offers a Holocaust survivor story that few will find familiar.” —Booklist

Publishers Weekly

“Renowned comics historian Robbins pens this biography of Lily Renée, an artist who was one of only a few women to work in the comic book industry in the 1940s.” —Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“This comic-book biography of a Jewish girl’s life under the Nazi jackboot and then as a refugee is low key and that much more profound for it. The panels are brightly lit, and the narrative is crisp, both of which serve to chillingly amplify the everyday banality of evil…. A fitting tribute.” —Kirkus Reviews