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Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story Paperback – November 3, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-10?A harrowing and often moving account of the co-author's family's struggle to survive the Holocaust. Opening in Bergen-Belsen, the story retraces the events leading up to the Blumenthals' imprisonment there. After Marion's grandparents died, she, her brother, and parents left Germany for Holland to wait for a visa that would allow them to come to the U.S. Their papers came, but sailing was delayed and Hitler invaded Holland. The Blumenthals then applied to join a group that was to be sent to Israel in exchange for German POWs. Soon after arriving in Bergen-Belsen, however, they realized that they would not be exchanged. They survived the camp and their family remained intact. Ironically, Mr. Blumenthal died of typhus shortly after liberation. After three years as displaced persons, Marion and her mother and brother finally arrived in the U.S., where there were new adjustments to be faced. The story is told only partly from Marion's point of view. More often, it is told by an omniscient narrator. This tends to remove readers somewhat from the emotional impact of the story. Chilling facts and statistics, such as a description of the poison gas "showers," read like a textbook rather than a memoir. The information is solid and well presented, however, and through its personal-narrative format the book should reach readers who might not be willing to read such titles as Milton Meltzer's Never to Forget (HarperCollins, 1976).?Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Series: An Avon Camelot Book
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; Reprint edition (November 3, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380731886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380731886
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca : { on June 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is unforgettable as a story of the Holocaust from the eyes of a child. I've had the pleasure of hearing Marion speak several times and she is marvelous. My students read her book this past school year and then went to see her for an author visit. They were moved to tears--even the boys--by her life during the war. Reading the book and then hearing her speak about her experiences is sobering. Her message isn't just about the Holocaust; it is also about learning tolerance and fairness which is certainly a page we can all learn from in today's world.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia P. Gallagher on September 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
FOUR PERFECT PEBBLES is just one of thousands of such stories that mandate telling and retelling. Simply and beautifully, Perl relates one little girl's mode of survival through one of history's most heinous periods. As the author of another Holocaust book, FAR ABOVE RUBIES by Cynthia Polansky, I read everything I can get my hands on pertaining to the Holocaust. This one is a gem that must not be overlooked.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I am in 6th grade and 11 years old. I love holocaust stories better than anything and this is definitely a five star book! I have read this book and it is fabulous. Marion and her family show great courage as they fight the battle of antisemitism. I love this book and I want Marion Blumenthal to know that it has touched me very much. It was so stirring that I couldn't put it down. If you liked this book, you should read Never to be Forgotten by Beatrice Muchman. (You can order it here on Amazon.) Marion, her mother, brother and father are wonderful testimonies of strength and courage during WWII. Anyone else who has a story like this should tell it. There are to many people out there who love these stories alot, I'm one of them. Thankyou for sharing your story with us Mrs. Blumenthal!!! It is fantastic!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Celeste M. Harmer on April 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Though this story is told as Marion saw it as a young child, it nevertheless remains a powerful and moving documentary of the most devastating war our planet has ever known.
This book is also a very good WWII primer. It would be required reading for a class entitled "WWII 101".
Marion Blumenthal spent her early childhood in Hoya, Germany with her brother and parents. They were a happy, prosperous Jewish family who owned a successful shoe retail business. But Marion's safe, secure world was shattered by the rise of the Third Reich in Germany. The Nazis, the dominant political party of the Third Reich, implemented their radical racial attacks against Jews, Gypsies, Slavics, Homosexuals, Communists, and whomever else was seen as a threat to Aryan purity. This meant the end of life as Marion knew it. Each passing day was a struggle to stay alive and out of the Nazis' clutches.
Despite their best efforts, the Blumenthal family fell prey to the Nazis. They eventually landed in Westerbork, a camp from which the prisoners where shipped to their deaths in places such as Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. The Blumenthals were transferred to Belsen, and despite their bleak future, Marion clung tenaciously to the hope that better times would come for her and her family. To bolster her and their spirits, she set about collecting four perfectly-shaped pebbles from the grounds of the camp. This was her metaphor for her family which, hopefully, would remain as one till the end of the war.
As the war dwindled to a close and Germany suffered one defeat after another, camp prisoners were shuttled along the remains of the Germain railways as the Nazis tried to desperately conceal the evils they had commited in the abandoned camps.
Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. E. Newell on May 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Four Perfect Pebbles" by Lila Perl and Marion Blumenthal Lazan, tells the story of young Marion's life in Hoya Germany during the rise of the Nazis. The story goes from Holland to Bergan-Belsen where the Blumenthal family ends up. And then after the war in the United States.
While this is book for the younger reader, this is a book that can be enjoyed by anyone at any age. Truly this book should not be missed.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A. Luciano VINE VOICE on February 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
Marion Blumenthal was born in Germany in 1934, a bad time to be Jewish in Germany. She had a mother and a father and a brother who was two years older than she was. When they were still young, Germany began to get dangerous.

This book tells the true story of a family living through the Holocaust. Their story is told mainly from the points of view of Marion and her mother, Ruth. During the Holocaust, they resisted leaving Germany when it was safe to do so, because they did not want to leave Marion's grandparents behind. The grandparents refused to leave their home. After their death, it was too late to easily get out of the country. The sad thing is that this family had everything going for them. They had relatives in safe countries who were willing to sponsor them and take them in. They had permission to journey to the United States, but then the war got in the way and they were unable to sail. This family ended up traveling to Holland and then, when the Nazis occupied the Netherlands, they were sent to the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. They had received permission to go to Palestine, where they also had people willing to take them in, but the Nazis never sent them. Luckily, Marion's family survived the camp. Toward the end of the war they were put into a "death train" and sent toward Berlin, where Hitler was still holding out. On their way there, they were liberated by Russian soldiers.

Life after the war was still difficult for the Blumenthal family. They were very sick and without a country, since they had no desire to remain in Germany, where they had started. After the war ended and they were once again free, they then had to figure out how to continue surviving and how to make a life for themselves.

It was frustrating to read this book and know that the world would get worse and worse for this family, and to see them not take the roads to safety when they were open. They were very lucky to survive.
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