Ana A. de Eulate, Illustrated by Sonja Wimmer. Cuento de Luz SL (May 2012) (Review copy). A little girl in Afghanistan gazes at the sky and dreams of peace, her heart soaring above a grey-brown landscape torn by war. She visualizes peace as a kite of brilliant colors, with tails and strings connecting people of all places, races, and faces. She sees children and adults together, leaning into a longed-for peaceful world. The themes of flight and connection are beautifully illustrated in the flowing of women's burkas, hair blowing in the breeze, trees bending and swaying, and of course kites flying with ribbons trailing through the crowd. This is a moving picture book full of the passion of children for peace in the midst of a history of trauma.
The age recommendation from the publisher is 5-7, but I believe it would also be appropriate and appreciated by older children, perhaps in a discussion group where they can explore current events, the history, geography and culture of Afghanistan, and relate their own dreams of peace to the young girl in the story. It would be a dramatic way to introduce a Middle East focus into a social studies class or writing class with middle grade and upper grade students. Younger children will respond to the illustrations and the intensity of the young girl's dreaminess, but the geo-political setting and history will be largely lost on them. They hear a lot about Afghanistan in the news and know we are at war there. Perhaps many young readers have family members in the service who have been deployed in the region (our family does). It is wonderful to be able to show how the children of Afghanistan are just like we are; longing for peace and treasuring joyful play with friends and family. There is great value in that message, and it shines out from this lovely book.