Flowers for Sarajevo by John McCutcheon; illustrated by Kristy Caldwell. 2017. Ink, charcoal, graphite pencil, and Adobe Photoshop. Published by Peachtree.
Brief summary: Drasko’s father goes to fight in the Bosnian war leaving his son to sell red roses in the town square to feed the family. The merchants take the best spots causing Drasko to move to the building where the orchestra practices. As the church bells ring ten, the square is hit by a mortar shell causing all the merchants and customers in the square to flee. The next day the square is quiet. Twenty-two people died the day before. Each day at 10 o’clock for twenty-two days, a cellist comes out with a chair, sits, and plays in front of the bakery where the bombing occurred. Drasko does his small part too to make a sorrowful time a little better.
Comments: This is a historical fiction picture book based on a bombing of the Bosnian War and the cellist who did play in memory of the victims each day at ten o’clock where the bombing took place. There are several sections at the end of the book: A Region Shaped by War, Author’s Note, Sheet Music with the words of a song the author wrote in honor of the cellist, and a biographical sketch of Vedran Smailovic, the cellist in the book. There is also a CD with John McCutcheon reading the book as well as music which includes John McCutcheon as the vocalist, Vedran Smailovic as the cellist, and Michael Aharon as the pianist. (Vedran Smailovic now lives in Ireland).
This is a war picture book and may not be for some young children to read on their own without a little guidance from an adult. War is always a difficult subject to talk about for anyone. I could see this picture book as an educational resource for teens/adults for an introduction to the Bosnian War unit of study.
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