Four Perfect Pebbles by Lila Perl
: A Holocaust Story

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"By the time WWII ended in Europe, the Blumenthal family--Marion, her brother Albert, and their parents--had lived in a succession of refugee, transit, and prison camps for more than six years, not only surviving but staying together....This gripping memoir is written in spare, powerful prose that vividly depicts the endless degradation and humiliation suffered by the Holocaust's innocent victims, as well as the unending horror of life in the camps. It's also an ennobling account of the triumph of the human spirit, as seen through a child's eyes."--Kirkus Reviews

About Lila Perl

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In Her Own Words... "I was born in Brooklyn, New York, and had a very ordinary and uneventful (as it seemed to me) childhood. I read voraciously, but it never occurred to me that I would one day become a writer. For one thing, I had never met a "real, live author," as young people do nowadays in their schools and libraries. And, in any case, most of the writers I read in my growing-up years, like Charles Dickens and Louisa May Alcott, were dead. "I didn't begin to publish juvenile fiction and nonfiction until my own children were in the fourth or fifth grades at school. I was stimulated by their expanding interests and by the realization that I had a great need to explore the longsilent world of my own childhood. "Soon I was writing contemporary novels for middle-graders, among them the "Fat Glenda" series. I also became intrigued with the reaches and challenges of nonfiction. I ventured into the American culinary past with titles like Slumps, Grunts, and Snickerdoodles: What Colonial America Ate and Why (Clarion). And I traveled to distant Egypt to do on-site research for Mummies, Tombs, and Treasure (Clarion). "When I met Marion Blumenthal Lazan/A and heard her speak about her experiences as a child survivor of the Holocaust, I knew that here was a story that had to be put into book form. "As part of the Blumenthal family's six-and-a-half years under the Nazi yoke, Marion/a, her parents, and her brother spent fourteen months in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in Germany. This was the very camp in which Anne Frank had died ... and at the same time that Marion and her family were there. Anne Frank left us no writings of her life in the camps. But Marion was able to convey to us the details of daily life, and of death, in that place of most indescribable horror. "When Marion told me about the "four perfect pebbles" that she sought to gather each day on the barren grounds of the camp, I felt that that would be the perfect title for the book. For the lonely and frightened nine-year-old, the sets of matching pebbles offered some kind of assurance that Mama, Papa, her brother, Albert, and she would survive Bergen-Belsen, if not the war-long effects of the Holocaust itself. "It's a source of great pride to me that Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story, which agreed to co-author at great emotional expense, is my fiftieth published book." center In Her Own Words..."At the age of thirteen, upon being placed in fourth grade with boys and girls four years younger than me, I was introduced to the English language for the first time. The German, Dutch, and Hebrew I had learned during my tumultuous "childhood" in Nazi Europe were not of much value at that time. It was not uncommon for me to sit through several showings of great screen classics, including The Best Years of Our Lives. These movies, along with radio, helped me to master the new language. How I found time to attend any movie is still a mystery to me, for I had worked after school ever since our family had reached Peoria, Illinois in 1948."By age sixteen both my English and my looks had improved considerably, and this combination somehow inspired a young college sophomore to ask to walk me home at the conclusion of Yom Kippur services on October 10, 1951. At that time I was a sophomore at Peoria Central High School."That summer Nathaniel--that "young college sophomore"--returned home to New York for vacation and work. We wrote to each other every day, but Nathaniel didn't make it easy for me. To improve my English he included in each letter ten words for me to look up in the dictionary and then use in a sentence. Not only did I comply with his request (how foolish I felt years later), but I wrote each of my letters to him on scrap paper, and only when I was satisfied with the contents would I pen it in my best possible handwriting."I graduated from high school in 1953, having managed to complete my studies in only two years (with summer courses), and ranked eighth in a graduating class of 265 students. Shortly after graduation Nathaniel and I were married, somewhat to the chagrin of my mother and his parents. I was eighteen years old."Upon graduating from college, Nathaniel entered U.S. Air Force pilot training, giving me the opportunity to see more of our beautiful United States. Our son David was born in Winter Haven, Florida; daughter, Susan, in Waco, Texas; and son Michael in New York City. Now all three children are married and have given Nathaniel and me seven grandchildren."I've been speaking about my Holocaust experiences since 1979, but after Four Perfect Pebbles was published, the number of speaking engagements greatly increased."The Diary of Anne Frank has always fascinated me. I read it in the original Dutch on my family's voyage to America in 1948 aboard the Holland-American liner Veendom. Actually, my story picks up where, tragically, Anne Frank's ended-in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in Germany. She wrote about hiding and suffering. With God's help, I was able to write about surviving and living a full, wholesome, and happy new life."I am thrilled that Four Perfect Pebbles has garnered such wonderful reviews and awards. Of course, most of the credit should be directed toward Lila Perl, my talented co-author. But the sweetest recognition was the Sydney Taylor "Best of the Bunch" citation, presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries. Thirty years ago, when I was an elementary-school PTA program vice-president, a Book-and-Author luncheon was held in our home, and the distinguished guest was none other than Sydney Taylor, the author of the outstanding books about the "All-of-a-Kind Family."
Published March 21, 1996 by Greenwillow Books. 144 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Religion & Spirituality, Children's Books, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Four Perfect Pebbles

Kirkus Reviews

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By the time WW II ended in Europe, the Blumenthal family-- Marion, her brother Albert, and their parents--had lived in a succession of refugee, transit, and prison camps for more than six years, not only surviving but staying together, a phenomenon that Marion attributes to the power of her four ...

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Publishers Weekly

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Amid a growing number of memoirs about the Holocaust, this book warrants attention both for the uncommon experiences it records and for the fullness of that record. Marion Blumenthal was not quite fiv

Mar 18 1996 | Read Full Review of Four Perfect Pebbles:: A Holo...

Publishers Weekly

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Marion Blumenthal was not quite five years old in 1939 when her family fled Germany for Holland, ending up in the relative safety of Westerbork, then a refugee camp run by the Dutch government.

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