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Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Flowers for Sarajevo

Flowers for Sarajevo

Spring 2017 Picture Books
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: John McCutcheon
Illustrator: Kristi Caldwell
ISBN: 978-1-56145-943-8
Hardcover Price: $19.95

Drasko enjoys helping his father sell flowers in a street market of Sarajevo where Christians, Muslims, and Serbs and Croats mingle and shop. He takes note of his father's kindnesses, giving flowers to little Gertie or poor Mrs. Novak, but he is baffled when his father slips a rose into the apron strings of the meanest man in the market. Seemingly overnight, war breaks out, tearing the country apart. When Drasko's father joins the battle, young Drasko is left to manage the flower stall and support the family. Former friends cruelly shove Drasko into an unshaded and out of the way corner of the market, an inhospitable place to sell flowers. This obscure location has one advantage; it is by the building where the Sarajevo opera orchestra practices, and Drasko can hear their rehearsals through the open windows.

One morning at ten o'clock while Drasco is working, a bomb is dropped on the marketplace in front of the bakery killing twenty-two innocent bystanders. The chaos and horror is overwhelming and Drasko flees.

Drasko returns hesitantly the next morning. At ten o'clock, the time the bomb exploded, a member of the orchestra dressed in his tuxedo, Vedan Smailovic, emerges from their building carrying a folding chair and his cello. He goes to the edge of the crater, sits down and plays Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor. Drasko and others draw close and listen. Every day for twenty-two days, Smailovic repeats this musical tribute, quietly entering history as "the cellist of Sarajevo." This kindness amidst hatred and violence touches the child who becomes more generous even to the meanest man in the market.

Flowers for Sarajevo by John McCutchen, with muted, expressive illustrations by Kristi Caldwell, includes a CD with a song by the author called, "Streets of Sarajevo" as well as a recording of Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor, the tribute Vedan Smailovic played for twenty-two days to honor each and every victim of the marketplace bombing.

Kemie Nix   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children's Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents' Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

Look for this product at:
Peachtree Publishers

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