In war-stricken Iraq where civilians--especially women--have little power, a librarian in Basra struggles to save her community's priceless collection of books.In war-stricken Iraq where civilians--especially women--have little power, a librarian in Basra struggles to save her community's priceless collection of books.Read Less
Jeanette Winter color illustrations. New in New jacket. Book CONDITION: NEW 2005 Harcourt hardcover & DJ (in mylar jacket), fourth printing. Color illustrations by the Author. Tiny edge wear to top DJ spine edge. Short remainder mark top edges at spine. CONTENT: Say or think what you will about the war in Iraq, the books & archaeological treasures were well worth saving. When war seemed imminent, Alia Muhammad Baker, chief librarian of Basra's Central Library, was determined to protect the library's holdings. In spite of the government's refusal to help, she moved the books into a nearby restaurant only nine days before the library burned to the ground. When the fighting moved on, this courageous woman transferred the 30, 000 volumes to her and her friends' homes to await peace and the rebuilding of a new library. In telling this story, first reported in the New York Timeson July 27, 2003, by Shaila K. Dewan, Winter artfully achieves a fine balance between honestly describing the casualties of war and not making the story too frightening for young children. The text is spare and matter-of-fact. It is in the illustrations, executed in acrylic and ink in her signature style, that Winter suggests the impending horror. The artist uses color to evoke mood, moving from a yellow sky to orange, to deep maroon during the bombing, and then blues and pinks with doves flying aloft as the librarian hopes for a brighter future. Palm trees, architecture, dress, and Arabic writing on the flag convey a sense of place and culture. Although the invading country is never mentioned, this is an important story that puts a human face on the victims of war and demonstrates that a love of books and learning is a value that unites people everywhere. 1 copy.
Publishers Weekly, 2004-12-20 Relaying the same story told in Alia's Mission (reviewed below), Winter (September Roses) deftly pares down for a picture-book audience the events surrounding Alia Muhammad Baker's courageous book rescue mission in Basra, Iraq, in spring 2003 (see Children's Books, Dec. 13). She portrays the Basra library as a place where the community comes together not only to read books but to "discuss matters of the world and matters of the spirit." In a typically lyrical passage, the author notes, "Alia worries that the fires of war will destroy the books, which are more precious to her than mountains of gold." As spare yet penetrating as the narrative, Winter's boldly hued, acrylic and pen illustrations depict the frantic book salvaging effort against a bright orange and burnt sienna backdrop of bomb- and gunfire-lit skies and the subsequent, heartbreaking library fire. A clever cross-section image of Alia's house shows the library volumes (which, readers learn in a concluding note, amounted to an astounding 70 percent of the collection) piled on every available surface. Graphically and textually shifting tone from the real to the idyllic, subsequent pages reveal Baker in a serene, dove-filled setting, where she waits for the war to end and dreams of peace and a new library. Winter, ever aware of her audience, mentions Alia's stroke only in the endnote, keeping her story to specifics that youngest readers can appreciate. All ages. (Jan.) FYI: A portion of the proceeds from the book's sales will be donated to a fund administered by the ALA to help rebuild the collection of Basra's Central Library. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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