I chose today’s paired picture books because both published this month in the United States. Then I looked at the calendar. For those who read my Perfect Picture Book posts, it’s not surprising that I’d highlight two more serious books on this date that is seared in our memories.
The Day War Came
Author: Nicola Davies
Illustrator: Rebecca Cobb
Publisher/Date: Walker Books/June 2018; published in the US, Candlewick Press/Sept. 2018
Themes: refugees; war; empathy; social activism; free verse poetry
Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):
A moving, poetic narrative and child-friendly illustrations follow the heartbreaking, ultimately hopeful journey of a little girl who is forced to become a refugee.
The day war came there were flowers on the windowsill and my father sang my baby brother back to sleep.
Imagine if, on an ordinary day, after a morning of studying tadpoles and drawing birds at school, war came to your town and turned it to rubble. Imagine if you lost everything and everyone, and you had to make a dangerous journey all alone. Imagine that there was no welcome at the end, and no room for you to even take a seat at school. And then a child, just like you, gave you something ordinary but so very, very precious. In lyrical, deeply affecting language, Nicola Davies’s text combines with Rebecca Cobb’s expressive illustrations to evoke the experience of a child who sees war take away all that she knows.
Written & Illustrated By: Nadine Kaadan
Translated By: Nadine Kaadan
Publisher/Date: Lantana Publishing Ltd/16 August 2018 (originally published in Arabic by Box of Tales Publishing House, Syria/2012)
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: Syria; war; art; hope; #OwnVoices
Short Synopsis (from Lantana Publishing):
Yazan no longer goes to the park to play, and he no longer sees his friend who lives next door. Everything around him is changing. His parents sit in front of the television with the news turned up LOUD and Yazan’s little red bike leans forgotten against the wall. Will he ever be able to go outside and play? An uplifting story about a courageous little boy growing up in a time of conflict, and the strength of family love.
I paired these books because I found both of these picture books to be particularly kid-centric due to their story lines, illustration styles and messages of hope, but they offer two different snapshots of how war has affected children. In The Day War Came, the young protagonist flees the war without family members, and much of the action occurs in the country to which she flees. In contrast, all of Tomorrow takes place in a city at war, with much of it occurring within the family’s intact apartment. Given the millions of children affected by war in, tragically, too many places, I think it’s important to consider that there is a range of experiences, emotions and life changes, and that we can’t “lump” these kids together or “label” them. By viewing them as individuals and seeking to understand the vast range of war-time experiences, we hopefully will help our children, and ourselves, become more empathetic.
Looking for similar reads?
See my post about Picture Books that Explore the Refugee and Migrant Experience in the Americas and read a recent New York Times review by Monica Edinger of 6 recent picture books about migrants and refugees, including The Day War Came.