No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War

No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War

by Anita Lobel


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Anita Lobel was barely five years old when World War II began and the Nazis burst into her home in Kraków, Poland. Her life changed forever. She spent her childhood in hiding with her brother and their nanny, moving from countryside to ghetto to convent—where the Nazis finally caught up with them.

Since coming to the United States as a teenager, Anita has spent her life makingpictures. She has never gone back. She has never looked back. Until now.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061565892
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/16/2008
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 51,408
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Anita Lobel's name is synonymous with the best in children's literature. She is the creator of such classics as Alison's Zinnia and Away from Home, and she received a Caldecott Honor for her illustrations in On Market Street. She is the creator of two books about her cat, Nini, One Lighthouse, One Moon (a New York Times Best Illustrated Book), and Nini Here and There. Her childhood memoir, No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Anita Lobel lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

No Pretty Pictures
A Child of War

Chapter One

From our balcony on a September day a long time ago, I watched the Germans march into the city where we lived. They stepped in unison, in shiny boots, with sunlight glinting on helmets and bouncing off bayonets. They sang a marching song. I did not understand the words that echoed between the buildings. Pushing my head through the bars of our crowded balcony to see the soldiers better, I held on tightly to my niania's (nanny's) hand. "Niemcy, Niemcy" ("Germans, Germans"), she muttered and sighed. My mother and father were there, and many other people. "No! No! They are French!" I heard people say. "Surely they must be French." It was a warm, and beautiful day. There was music and promise in the air.

The back of the large apartment building where we lived faced a square courtyard. Here balconies were long walkways that extended the whole length of the building. We sometimes saw our neighbor, a Hasid, in his long black coat and round saucerlike hat edged in fur, rushing by our back windows on his way to the elevator. He turned comers, his beard flying in the wind. "Jews!" I would hear Niania mutter.

My father was the owner of a chocolate factory. He was not a Hasid. But every morning he wrapped his head in thin black leather straps that ended in a small square box that rested on his forehead. The ends of the straps were tied around his wrists. He put a white shawl with black stripes around his shoulders and faced a window that led to the back balcony.. He mumbled and rocked back and forth. Under the leather straps on his head he wore a tight hairnet clasped on the side with a buckle.After he finished his mumblings, he unwrapped the straps, kissed them, and wound them back into the box he had taken off his head. He went to another room and came out elegantly dressed in a fine gray suit with a white shirt, a tie, and a boutonniere in his lapel. His hair was beautifully slicked down. He wore shiny black shoes and often spats. He smelled nice when he kissed me good-bye.

Then, one morning, he was gone and did not come back. He had kissed me in the night, and I did not know it. I looked for his shoes. I could not find his smell, and I cried.

One afternoon that October I was standing by the window that looked out on the courtyard. Something happened. I don't know how it happened. I did not see the beginning of it. Niania cried: "Don't look! Don't look!" She tried to pull me away from the window. "Come away from there!" Six floors below an open window facing our part of the building, several people were surrounding something on the ground. I could see a dark liquid slowly appear on the cement courtyard. Without really knowing, I knew what all this was.

Whenever I ran and fell, banging my head, a black smell curled around in my head. No, even before, before the pain really began. Before I had had time to burst into my childish wail, an oily pungency flushed the inside of my head and spread through my mouth and my nostrils.

Once, before the German soldiers had even come, I had been walking with Niania in the middle of the city, near a place called the Rondel. Into this remaining part of a medieval tower surrounded by a waterless moat, two motorcyclists had crashed. The railing had been bent and broken in several places. I saw no bodies. But before Niania hurried me away, I had seen the dark, dark red pools of liquid in the moat. There had been the noise that sirens and policemen and droszki (horse-drawn carriages) and horses made. And in my head there had been the smell of it all.

The shape on the ground of our courtyard had been covered. The edges of the blanket fanned out neatly. The puddle of blackish red liquid that slowly seeped out from under the blanketed mound was growing larger. A high-heeled shoe had fallen off one foot that could just barely be seen under the covering. And that smell was in my head again.

A blue late-afternoon sky cradled the roofs of my Eastern European city when Niania closed the drapes.

A little later I sneaked back to the window. It was dark now. I could no longer see a stain. There was no blanket on the ground. The shoe was gone. The courtyard was empty. There was nothing.

No Pretty Pictures
A Child of War
. Copyright © by Anita Lobel. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Chiubaca on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
No Pretty Pictures is written by Anita Lobel. It was nominated for the National Book Award in young adult literature. It is a memoir of Anita Lobel, a Jewish girl who was living in Krakow, Poland during the Nazi Occupation of Poland and survived the Holocaust. The story begins when Anita was 5 years old. Anita had a mother, father and a brother. Anita and her brother were sent by their mother to their nanny, a devouted Catholic. Unfortunately Anita and her brother were eventually caught by the Nazis and were sent to a series of Concentration Camps. Luckily, Anita, her brother, and her parents all survived and were reunited in Stockholm, Sweden. The story ends when Anita was 16 years old and living in the United States. No Pretty Pictures is an excellent book. Since it is told through the eyes of Anita, it enables readers to view and understand what life was like for a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust and World War II. The story is about bravery, struggle, and the will to survive. Based on my review, I give No Pretty Pictures 5 out of 5 stars.
JanaRose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Anita was five years old when World War II began and changed her life forever. Along with her brother and Niania (nanny) they went into hiding. After several years the two children were caught and sent from one concentration camp to another. Despite the horrible conditions and lack of food, the children managed to survive until liberation. Discovered to have tuberculosis, the children then spent two years in a sanatorium in Sweden slowly recovering. Miraculously they discovered their parents had survived and they were ultimately reunited.Beautifully written this is a moving memoir. It is a story of courage, determination and the struggle to survive. Family photos are included throughout the book, and an epilogue, which explains what happens next. Overall, I would highly recommend this book.
SandyStiles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent view into the early life of Anita Lobel and her brother. Her nanny was able to hide them for a while until the Nazis caught up with them. She ended up in Auschwitz, survived and then eventually was sent to Sweden as a refugee. Good story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book confusing at times, but awesome. Sometimes the word pattern and language was difficult to follow. However, I enjoyed reading how Anita faced the challenges thrown at her especially the concentration camp when she didn't have fear even thought they were most likely going to kill her and her brother. I admire a five year old for not only surviving the holocaust, but writing about it to. Even when she had tuberculosis she wasn't scared or frightened she just wanted to play outside. Anita lobel is amazing because after the war she continued to write. she didn't just live on, she strived after the holocaust. I strongly encourage people to read this book sl
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Imagine being taken from your home by Nazis when you are only eight years old and you and your younger brother are trying to survive  to see your family again. In the autobiography, No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War, by Anita Lobel, you will learn about her life in that  situation. She writes her long, hard, and painful story about her experience in a concentration camp. I enjoyed reading this book because it taught me a lot about what it was like to be a prisoner in a camp. Teenage boys and girls would like this book because it is  very interesting and the author does a great job of telling her story. 
Cayla More than 1 year ago
I really really enjoyed this book. I have always been interested in WWII stories just because of reading Ann Frank as a child. This story is an eye opening glimpse into how people lived and the horrific things they had to go through. I couldnt imagine living through things like that and I am so thankful to be in this day and time rather then during this stories time. Lobel has a beautiful way of informing while still keeping the audience anticipating what will happen next. I really like how the story was written- it flows really well. The beginning is a little slow but once you get reading its intense and kept me reading for hours.
Louie-A More than 1 year ago
I fell in Love with this book! I picked it up by chance at my high school library, not knowing what it was about. I'm normally not the type of person who just reads for a good time, but I was walking by and it caught my attention. Every page of this book kept me interested and I was definitely rooting for that little girl and her brother the whole time. I think it should be required reading for students. I'm very glad that I took the time to read this Book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anita Lobel has a wonderful story to tell, one filled with drama, intrigue and utlimate triumph of spirit. I loved this book and would highly recommend it. She has had a life turned upside down by world war II and is a survivor with a joy for living that oozes from the pages of this book. I admire her both as an indivual and as a writer/artist. What a wonderful book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I cant imagine what it was like living through Nazis and concentration camps. I wouldnt know what to do if i was in her past sitchaution (i know i cant spell!) She was really brave.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i enjoyed the book, although it seemed quite slowmoving and childish. although the character was a child she had very adult thoughrs and reactions. she seemed to grow up too quickly, i felt i was missing something. on the other hand the story was compelling and kept me interested.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book around 3 times now and I feel it is the most decriptive and powerful book I have ever read. I have read many Autobiographies and most were dull and boring, But I must say that this one was truely astonishing! It made me feel for the characters. It was very sad and suspencful in most parts that's what made it so outstanding! ^_^
Guest More than 1 year ago
i started reading it and i don't realy remember the first half of the book(it was soooo boring i was almost sleeping). but the second half i was awake but not realy intrestsd. you would only like it if you like boring slow reads
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that no pretty pictures really made me realize what children where going through during the holocaust and really made me want to get up and do something!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This amazingly heart wrenching autobiography leaves you on the edge of your seat! I recomend this book for all ages. T
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was really touched when Anita Lobel wrote that she had to hide her matzah in a carriage under her dolls. Her every day routines became in danger and therefore what ever she did had to be in secret.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book... I usually don't read that often, but this book would make kids that don't read that often want to read.(like me) The book was pretty much about two jewish kids that are trying to stay away from the Nazis and there nanny is helping them hide. One of the two kids is a girl and the other is a boy and they are brother and sister. They eventually get caught by the Nazis and the get taken to a concentration camp. Were they are treated very badly and there is a really bad stench. At the end of the book they get resucued and taken to a sanitorium because they found out the had tuberculosis. They get better and reunited with there nanny, mother, and father.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books. I like how the author made it so easy to picture in your head what was going on in the story. This book made me understand the pain that people suffered during the holocast. The book always made want to read on and never put it dow. I enjoyed this book alot. The author should write more stories because she did a great job w/this book. I recommend this book to e
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a very good really makes ya think..i'm only 13 and i loved it..
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in my 8th grade english class and I am very glad I did because I was able to see how much it was to vaule life during the holocaust. This is my favorite book of all time , and I hope that everyone can get a chance to read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
No Pretty Pictures is an amazing book. The author really lets people know what it was like to live during ww2, and all the struggles that came along with it. The book is incredible and wonderfull--it is a highly reccomended book from my point of view.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'One night I dreamed that I was taking a hot bath in a great big tub. Feeling warm and relaxed, I woke up with streams of diarrhea running out of me and all over our bunk'. This is an example of the graphic nature written by Anita Lobel, No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War. These details talk about the horror living during the Nazi invasion of Poland that make this book one that I would recommend to everyone from ages fifteen and up to read. There is a section of pictures of Lobel in this book where you find some of the people and characters in the book that are important to the author. The picture on the front cover is Lobel and her brother after they disembarked from the ferry that carried them to the Baltic Sea to Sweden. Although, some parts, I found confusing. I think it began when she arrived in Sweden. Lobel goes from the tragedy of being in a camp to talking about how she's fascinated about her art. Yes, this book is all about Lobel and how she survived. But why is writing about her fascination with art so important? Is this book supposed to talk about the horrors in camp or how she survived? Other than that confusion, I think the rest is written with such great pain, it just makes you realize what horrors the author and her family went through. I think she sends a great message in her novel. She proves to us readers that it is hard to struggle in life and mature at the same time during the Nazi invasion. You may think reading about Anne Frank is enough, but you would be wrong. Anne Frank and Anita Lobel have some similarities. First, neither of them use formal language. Their books are very easy to read and understand. Both of them also have to deal with deaths of loved ones, try to keep their memories in the past, and move on with their lives. There are also some differences. When Anne Frank got into her teens, she had to deal with her parents. On the other hand, Anita Lobel, has to mature faster, and is separated from her parents, leaving her with her brother. Anne Frank writes about her daily life and Lobel uses suspense throughout her novel. I am not saying Anne Frank is boring, even though her writing is personal and descriptive when you read her diary, but Anita Lobel writes like a biographer. She summarizes the parts of her life that are less significant to her. She's not very descriptive only on some areas in this book. Although both authors may have similarities and some differences, I think both inspire you to keep on going to enjoy life the fullest. It is really hard to write about something so traumatic in your life. Imagine yourself, all alone with nobody else. Who would you look up to? It's hard to keep on going on in life when you're all alone in this world. But this book, has a happy ending at least. Not all Jewish survivors lived to tell their story. Luckily, Lobel had the chance to write about surviving in a world of hate.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book put me in a position were I could feel how sad and hurt Anita Lobel became when she was captured by the Nazis. Great book for people with a true heart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i like this book because, it's great and enjoyable. it talks about a girl who could not be beautiful and could not make a smile at all. i wasn't going to like doing what Lobel was doing there in the story