A young refugee boy from Afghanistan struggles toward adulthood in
a compassionate tale from Khan (Bedtime B-a-a-a-lk, p. 896) about
the healing of the human spirit. At the mud house in the refugee
camp, the nameless narrator's days consist mainly of work, school,
prayers, and sharing what little there is to eat. He has nightmares
of war, and is learning the skill of carpet-weaving, from which he
hopes to someday derive a living for his family; with his father
dead, the boy is embarrassed to admit that he accepts minimal aid
from an unseen sponsor. In his graceful narrative, he names the
colors he works with: "White for the shroud we wrapped my father's
body in. Black is for the night that cloaks us from enemy eyes.
Green is the color of life. Blue is the sky. One day it will be
free of jets." Leaden skies and mud-colored walls contrast with the
bright colors of the carpet; Himler's watercolor and pencil
drawings, spare as the text, build poignantly to a portrait of a
life. After the news comes that his sister, hospitalized with
broken legs, will heal, the boy's dreams turn; the roses he is
weaving into a carpet appear in his vision of a future "where the
bombs cannot touch us." (Kirkus Reviews)
It's always the same. The jets scream overhead. They've seen me.
I'm running to slowly, dragging my mother and sister behind. In a
flowerless war-torn world where every inch of land must be used to
grow precious food, a young boy weaves roses in his carpets as he
masters the skills that may save his family from a life of poverty.
For a young refugee living with loss and terror-filled memoriers,
time is measured by the next bucket of water, the next portion of
bread, and the next call to prayer. Here where everything-walls,
floor, courtyard-is mud, a boy's heart can still long for freedom,
independence, and safety. And here, where life is terribly fragile,
the strength to endure grows out of need. But the strength to dream
comes from within.
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