A fictionalized account of a true story, published for the 25th anniversary of the Bosnian War, in which a young boy learns the healing power of music.
Drasko and his father sell flowers in a Sarajevo marketplace. Drasko marvels at the way his father has a kind word (and sometimes even a free flower) for everyone, regardless of race, religion, scowl, or smile. But seemingly overnight, the country is suddenly at war, and Drasko’s father must go play a part. Drasko takes over the flower stand, but now people are harried and rushed. One fateful morning, a whistling sound pierces the air. The bakery in the square is bombed, and 22 innocents are killed. The next day the square is silent, until a lone man in a tuxedo carries a chair and cello to the middle of the rubble and begins to play. He does this for 22 consecutive days, one for each of the lives that were lost. McCutcheon frames this story not around the unnamed cellist but around Drasko and the welling spirit of hope that one tiny, unexpected action can inspire. Critically, he does not identify Drasko’s ethnicity or religion, emphasizing that “Serb and Croat, Muslim and Christian” are all affected. Smudged, faded backdrops highlight key moments in the framed foregrounds, with deep, jewel-toned roses standing out all the more. An included CD allows readers to hear the story narrated by the author, with an accompanying musical performance by Vedran Smailovic, the story’s cellist.
Beauty will always find a way to rise from violence, but this is a reminder all readers need. (historical note, further reading, author’s note, musical score) (Picture book. 7-10)