A story about how a child and his family cope with war.
Yazan, a Syrian boy, has not been able to go to the park to play recently nor to go to school sometimes, which upsets him. He used to have fun watching his mother paint and painting with her, but recently she has been constantly watching TV with the volume so loud and the images spilling out of it full of darkness—literally: Shadows ooze out of it in the pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, one of many symbolic images used to portray war and destruction. One weekend, after all of Yazan’s attempts at self-entertainment and to engage with his parents fail, he escapes. However, the world he sees outside is not what he expected: The street is empty, there are no other kids to play with, and scary sounds of explosions abound. Yazan’s father eventually comes to the rescue, and his parents become more involved again, explaining to him why he cannot go outside. His mother brings her paints, and Yazan is excited. “When will the fighting be over?” he asks. “I don’t know,” says his mother, but “let’s paint a park in your bedroom…and soon, you’ll be able to go outside again and play.”
Kaadan crafts a happy ending within an active war context, no easy feat; readers seeking a less fantasy-dependent plot may enjoy Nicola Davies and Rebecca Cobb’s The Day War Came (2018) or Hayan Charara and Sara Kahn’s The Three Lucys (2016). (Picture book. 4-8)