cover image The Roses in My Carpets

The Roses in My Carpets

Rukhsana Khan. Holiday House, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1399-7

This realistic story follows a day in the life of a young Afghani refugee who takes solace in the beautiful carpets he weaves. In a recurring nightmare, the boy narrator flees with his mother and younger sister, Maha, from the bomber planes that killed his father, then awakes to find himself in a safe but impoverished camp. At dawn, a muezzin calls him to prayer; he then attends school, followed by another call to prayer and finally goes off to his long-awaited practice of carpet weaving. For him, weaving is a skill that ensures ""my family will never go hungry"" and an outlet that allows him to create a world of color and beauty (""Everything in camp is a dirty brown, so I do not use brown anywhere in my carpets""). When Maha is injured by a truck, the boy must set aside his weaving to come to his family's aid. Khan hints at the boy's powerful emotions in spare prose, and handles her difficult subject matter sensitively. Himler (Fly Away Home) paints the family with dignity and warmth, enveloping them in earth-colored, rosy tones and the details of daily life. Readers will appreciate the candor of author and artist in their depiction of refugee life and the family's hope in the midst of such conflict; however, they will need an adult's help to explain some of its larger themes. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)