When I was a child the news was filled with reports of violence in the Middle East: terrible, unexplainable conflicts. Age-old hatreds. I’m no longer a child, and still these same conflicts are “current events” as hard as ever to explain.
Perhaps this is why I was so excited by this eloquent, riveting novel by the young Israeli author Daniella Carmi. We read it first in its original Hebrew, and my colleague Zehava Berger raved, “this is a quiet novel that screams below the surface.”
No novel can make sense of something as complex and irrational as what’s happening in the middle east. But a novel can bring to life memorable characters and let us share some of their hope and anguish: Samir, a Palestinian boy, awaiting an operation in an Israeli hospital; Yonatan, a vulnerable, bookish kid with a borderless imagination; and the rest of the wounded children who live on the ward.
Their story comes to us like a searing “letter from the front,” daring us to understand.
“It's been a long time since I saw the stars, because in our place nobody likes to look out at night, and if you must, you certainly don't look at the sky. But here the stars twinkle at you, and when you shut your eyes you go on seeing them. They fly closer and closer till they fall down on you.”
Reviews and Awards
ALA Mildred Batchelder Award for best translated novel
Middle East Outreach Council Award, outstanding book about the Middle East for children and young people
New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age
Not Just for Children Anymore! 2001 list
Notable Book for a Global Society 2001
IBBY Honor List
Children’s Books Mean Business Exhibit
Children’s Literature Top Choices List
Lilith Selection of Books for Young Readers
“A moving novel, eloquently translated from the Hebrew…With the message, there's the moving drama of individual kids who become friends and help each other through pain when they get a chance to know each other.” - Booklist, boxed review
“Life in the hospital is described as clearly as life in the Occupied Territories and readers will sympathize with Samir's fear and loneliness and weLOCome his new friendships. Written in Hebrew but published first in Germany, the book is smoothly translated and will have wide appeal.” - School Library Journal
“Young teens will relate to Samir's feelings of being an outsider and will appreciate the message of peace that is the central theme of the book.” - Voice of Youth Advocates
“Here, the two boys create their own world, away from the fighting and the wars, where the two work, share and laugh as friends. A brighter tomorrow is promised to Samir and we, too, can believe it will happen.” - Jewish Books for Young Readers
“Will leave readers pondering the resilience of children in the face of tragedy.” – Kirkus Reviews
Middle Grade Novel
Trim Size: 5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Page Count: 160
Foreign Rights: Yael Lotan
Translation Rights: Yael Lotan
Rights Available? yes