cover image Sami and the Time of the Troubles

Sami and the Time of the Troubles

Florence Parry Heide, Judith Heide Gilliland. Clarion Books, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-395-55964-2

With a child's frankness, Sami tells of life in war-torn Beirut--an existence spent between the relative safety of Grandfather's cellar hearing gunshots and falling bombs, and brief sojourns into the city's rubble to experience life above ground. Sami's poignant and appealing narrative is imbued with a wisdom far beyond his years. Left fatherless by a bomb blast, he has boyish yearnings to play at soldiers and build a sandcastle, but these are tempered by ever-present reality. He understands that the future depends on his generation, and the text picks up moments of relaxation--the discovery of a luscious peach on sale, memories of a day at the beach. Lewin's brooding watercolors dramatically depict the contrast between cellar-bound days and rare moments of eye-squinting sunshine. And while his studies do not portray the worst horrors of living in a war zone, they exude a brave optimism. This uncommon picture book, valuable for its portrait of children caught in modern-day conflicts, is sure to lead to thought-provoking discussions. Ages 5-9. (Apr.)