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."