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GOOD NIGHT, COMMANDER by Ahmad Akbarpour


by Ahmad Akbarpour & illustrated by Morteza Zahedi & translated by Shadi Eskandani & Helen Mixter

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: May 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-88899-989-4
Publisher: Groundwood

In the war between Iran and Iraq, a little boy loses his leg—and also his mother. Once safe, his only way to make sense of the tragedy is to re-create the war in his bedroom with a toy gun and imaginary soldiers. This time however, he is in control; he is the Commander. But when he finally meets his enemy face to face, he finds a young boy, similar to him. Readers learn a universal truth—enemies are never as different as one would imagine. The boy stops fighting and looks tearfully at his mother’s photograph, ashamed that he was unable to avenge her death. A reassuring voice whispers, “Congratulations, Commander. I am proud of you.” Zahedi’s wobbly, childlike sketches reinforce the direct perspective of a child struggling to process horrific events. Educating children about war will never be easy, but a story from a child’s voice shows how combat affects everyone. Tanks and fallen soldiers, no matter how innocently rendered, make this more suitable for older readers, but the recognition of the essential humanity of an enemy is a good lesson for all. (introductory note) (Picture book. 8-12)