John McCutcheon has taken an actual place and actual event where the Serb and Croatian war led to the Siege of Sarajevo. He has brought into the story how the war impacted the family of Drasko who is a young boy whose father sold fresh flowers in Sarajevo. Father is away at war and Drasko continues to sell the flowers to support his family.
War hits. Destruction is close and personal. The bombing was terrible.
And then, the cellist steps from his doorway and sits down. He begins to play. Sadness but beauty and hope emanate from his piece. This continues day by day.
The story touched my heart and I thought to myself, "Why have I never heard this story before?" The story is both sad and beautiful as the darkness is parted and the brightness that is the human spirit shines forth.
The illustrations are poignant, yet suitable for a children's book. The colors are drab neutrals which denote the bland, unlovely world that was Bosnia in the 1990s. Small touches of bright color peek through in the beauty of the flowers.
Included in this publication is the true back story of Cellist Vedran Smailovic who was a cellist for the Sarajevo Opera, Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra RTV Sarajevo, and the National Theatre of Sarajevo. Also, the history of the embattled region that includes Sarajevo spanning more than a century. And the beautiful reading of the story by the author himself. The beautiful song is sung by John McCutcheon and played by Cellist Vedran Smailovic.
I highly recommend.
About the book: 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.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimen tary copy from Peachtree Publishing to facilitate a review. I was not compensated and opinions are my own, alone.