This is the story of Yamo, a young Afghan villager who, in the absence of his soldier older brother, Haroon, gets to accompany his dad to the market to help him sell fruits.
It is harvest season in the village of Paghnam, and for the first time young Yamo will tag along with his father to the market in order to help sell the cherry harvest. The task is not easy, and Yamo grows more and more disappointed. He has nobody to share his chagrin with besides Pompa, his donkey, carrying all the cherries. The pair’s misfortune, however, is soon over: They have one customer…and then two…and then three…and soon Yamo has sold everything he had but for one last handful to share with his dad. The latter is proud of Yamo and decides to reward him with a surprise. All is well for Yamo, his family, and the village of Paghnam…until the war strikes, and it is all gone. Author/illustrator Kobayashi’s vivid and colorful illustrations, together with detailed descriptions, effectively convey the lively nature of the village, highlighting the market’s hustle and bustle while providing an appreciation of the deep love Yamo has for his dad, his absent brother, and even his donkey. The ending is abrupt, but details in both text (a man who lost his leg in the war) and illustrations (armed men with automatic weapons in some backgrounds) provide some foreshadowing without blunting the shock.
A sweet story with an ending that too many children will know. (Picture book. 5-10)