cover image Four Perfect Pebbles:: A Holocaust Story

Four Perfect Pebbles:: A Holocaust Story

Lila Perl, Marian B. Lazan, Marion Blumenthal Lazan. Greenwillow Books, $16.99 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14294-0

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 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. They had visas for the U.S. and tickets for an ocean crossing, but during a fatal three-month postponement of their sailing, the Germans invaded Holland. By 1944 the Blumenthals arranged to be part of a group bound for Palestine in exchange for the release of German POWs; the family was instead sent to Bergen Belsen, where they remained, together, in the so-called Family Camp. Marion, her brother and parents survived the war, but her father died of typhus several months after liberation. Written in the third person, the book lacks the searing intensity of such memoirs as Ruth Sender's The Cage or Isabella Leitner's The Big Lie, also for this age group, but it is unusually complete, not only in its skillful presentation of the historical context but in its treatment of the Blumenthals' horrifying journey. Quotes from Lazan's 87-year-old mother are invaluable-her memories of the family's experiences afford Marion's story a precision and wholeness rarely available to child survivors. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)