It is with profound sorrow that I share with you the sad news of the passing of Lila Perl, my dear, close friend, and esteemed co-author of my Holocaust memoir, Four Perfect Pebbles.
Lila, after a brief illness, passed away quietly at home on Wednesday, December 4th. She was a prodigious author, with well over 50 books published. Four Perfect Pebbles was exactly her 50th published work!
Other nonfiction tittles include The Great Ancestor Hunt and It Happened in America: True Stories from the Fifty States. Her most recent books for Benchmark Books/Marshall Cavendish are To the Golden Mountain: The Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, and Behind Barbed Wire: The Story of Japanese Internment During World War II, and Open for Debate – Terrorism, published by Benchmark Books/Marshall Cavendish.
It was through Joan Newman, a mutual friend, that we first met. At that time, Joan was the president of the Baldwin Chapter of Hadassah. I had been invited to speak at one of their evening meetings. After my talk, Joan asked if I had thought about putting my story into book form, and suggested her good friend, Lila, to help with this project.
Lila called, wanting to know the next time I was scheduled to speak locally. She came to hear me at a school in Woodmere. After witnessing the strong and positive reaction of these middle school students, Lila told me that my story “has to be put into written form.”
Lila later told me that she already knew the title on her drive home, and most of the chapter headings!
With the help of my beloved mother, and brother, Albert, Lila and I worked for a year and a half on the manuscript. She even traveled to Germany to check out the “facts.” Lila was ever so careful to be accurate and honest in her writing. The manuscript was quickly accepted by Greenwillow, then a division of William Morrow Publishers. Libby Shub, the editor, told me she cried the night she read the manuscript for the first time.
Four Perfect Pebbles was published in March 1996, and is now in its 26th printing in hardback. Four Perfect Pebbles has also been published by Avon Books and Scholastic Book Club, and has been translated into German, Dutch and Japanese.
Most importantly, because of Lila Perl, tens of thousands of young adults have gotten an important introduction to the Holocaust from a child’s perspective.
Lila became a fast and close friend, and from time to time, we enjoyed dinner together, along with Joan Newman.
Our phone calls were many – it was always so good to speak with her.
I will very much miss Lila, and the wisdom and love she shared.
Lila, my dear friend, may you rest in peace,