In a village torn apart by war, 12-year-old Leyla makes a very brave choice.
Leyla loves to draw. Drawing takes her to another world. But lately, she draws pictures of army trucks, broken buildings and broken people. These are the images that are seared in her mind. She needs to draw, in order to let them out. War has ravaged her home. Her school is destroyed, her best friend has left, and American GIs patrol the streets. Her father tells her never to speak to the soldiers, never to trust an American. But one stands out and has captured her attention. She is a woman GI, with friendly eyes and a friendly smile. Leyla can’t help but draw a portrait of her. It is her best drawing yet. When local tensions mount and villagers try to overthrow the American troops, Leyla is caught in the middle. She has a chance to help save a life, but it goes against everything her father has ever taught her. With this very simply told tale set in Iraq in 2004, Higgins lets younger readers glimpse the realities of war. Yet there is also an important spark of hope, showing that conflict can—sometimes—give way to compassion.
A slim volume, filled to the brim. (Fiction. 7-11)