Jeanette Winter

Book Review: The Librarian of Basra

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The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq 

Written & Illustrated by Jeanette Winter 
Published January 1, 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Ages: 7+, 32 pages 
Genre/Topics: Nonfiction, Library, Multicultural, Save Books 
 

Alia Muhammad Baker is the librarian of Basra, a city in Iraq. Her library is a meeting place to discuss books, but also to discuss war. Alia worries that fire from the war will destroy the books, which are very precious to her. She asks the governor for permission to move the books to a safe place, but he refuses. Alia decides to protect the books herself and secretly brings books home every night. Finally, war reaches Basra. Alia asks her friend, Alia Muhammad, who owns a restaurant next to the library to help save the books. They quickly remove the books from the library and hide them in the restaurant. Only nine days later, a fire burns the library to the ground. They move the thousands of books to her house and friends’ houses to protect  the books from harm.

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq is a true story about a brave women in Iraq. War is a sensitive issue and I thought this book demonstrated that a community can work together to save precious books. The text is straightforward and doesn’t become too graphic  when discussing war. It’s a good book to start a discussion about war with children. The pictures are vibrant and beautiful.

Celebrate National Library Week!

April 8-14, 2012

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9/11 Book: September Roses

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September Roses illustrated and written by Jeanette Winter

Ages 5 – 8, 40 pages (Very short book with about a sentence on each page with beautiful pictures)

As September 11th approaches, I wanted to highlight some children’s books that can be used to discuss the topic.

September Roses is a true story about two sisters from South Africa who grow roses. They traveled with over 2,000 roses to New York City for a flower show. Due to the attack on the World Trade Centers, the flower show cancelled and the sisters weren’t able to travel back to South Africa. So, they had no where to go and boxes of unused roses. However, there was a suggestion for how to use the roses. The sisters formed two towers of roses that helped others during this tragic situation.

The book does a good job lightly explaining what occurred without giving too much details for young ages. The story is lovely of how roses could help people’s emotion during a difficult time. The pictures are beautiful as they move from bright colors into darkness. It’s a good book to lead into discussion.

– opening page

As I looked down at the roses, a young man walked to where I stood and told me how they came to be there.