Friday, May 12, 2017

Spotlight Friday - Flowers for Sarajevo 5.12.17

Time to get ready for the weekend!
Kick up your feet and find a good place to read.
Sharing #booklove for your classroom or library.
Spotlighting a book or two because these books deserve the spotlight!

Flowers for Sarajevo
Flowers for Sarajevo
written by John McCutcheon
illustrated by Kristy Caldwell
published by Peachtree Publishers

It was at NCTE 2016 that I first came across this book.  I was in the Peachtree Publishing booth and was fortunate enough to be told about some of their upcoming books.  I remember hearing about this book and knowing it was one I would want to pick up in the spring.

I finally had time to sit down with the published copy and I sit in silence.  This is a story that will touch the heart of all who come across it.  It is a story that will spark conversation.  It is a story that will make readers question, and try to understand.  Although it tells the story of a war torn country, it's a story of hope and humanity.  Certainly something to talk about now. 

Goodreads summary:
The moving story of a young boy who discovers the power of beauty and kindness during a time of war. Drasko helps his father sell flowers in Sarajevo, but when war threatens and his father is called to the battlefront, Drasko must take over the flower stall. One morning the boys familiar routine is shattered when a mortar shell hits the bakery, killing twenty-two people. The next day, a cellist from the Sarajevo Opera Orchestra goes to the crater and plays the most beautiful music that Drasko can imagine. Inspired, he looks for ways to ease the sorrow of those around him. 

Based on real events of the Bosnian War.

In the author's note, McCutcheon talks about his choice to tell the story not from the musician's point of view, but from a young boy.  I think it was a wise craft move, but discuss it with students.  Does this make sense to them?  How would it change things if it was just about the musician?

I love that there is a CD that is included with this book (although I would make a plea to the publisher - also include a downloadable link - too many classrooms do not have CD players anymore!).  It offers different ways to interact with the book, from hearing the author narrate the story, the song the author wrote to go along with the book, including music from the actual musician in the story, Vedran Smailovic.

I will leave you with a quote from the Author's Note.  I think it is powerful and I hope you include it in your discussion with students.

"But we are each capable of finding that beauty, that kindness within ourselves that violence and hatred seek to destroy.  In a world in which fear has become the dominant weapon of the weak, it is precisely this kind of defiance that will deny victory to the forces of evil." - John McCutcheon

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