Author: Marsden, Carolyn
As American bombs fall on Baghdad during the Iraq War, ten-year-old cousins Nouri and Talib witness the growing violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 4.0 Quiz: 148981
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.40
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 58268
Common Core Standards
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Key Ideas & Details
Kirkus Reviews (01/01/12)
School Library Journal (02/01/12)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (06/12)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 02/01/2012 Gr 4–7—Ten-year-old cousins Nouri and Talib live in Karada, a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad's Red Zone, the hazardous area surrounding the U.S.-occupied Green Zone. Nouri is grief stricken about the death of his favorite uncle, who was killed in a Sunni suicide bombing. The boy blames Talib, who is half-Sunni, for his loss. As conflicts between Shiites and Sunnis worsen, Nouri does something that prompts Talib and his scared parents to leave their home and take shelter in Mutanabbi Street, the center of booksellers and intellectual life and a traditional neutral zone. After it is the target of a Shiite car bomber, Talib becomes obsessed with thoughts of revenge. However, when snow falls for the first time in living memory, all weapons are silenced as everyone, including Talib, views the white flakes as a miraculous message from Allah to cease fire. Based on actual events, this novel is a realistic depiction of children caught up in hostilities they cannot fully understand. Although it touches on the American presence, the focus is on the conflicts between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. An author's note briefly explains the differences between these two sects, but readers still might be confused. Marsden's detailed descriptions of everyday life make this culture come alive.—Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ - Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 01/01/2012 Five years into the second Iraq war, the violence that rages between Sunnis and Shiites divides young cousins Nouri, a Shiite, and Talib, who is half Sunni. When Nouri’s beloved uncle is killed by a Sunni bomber, the boy blames his cousin and perpetrates a foolish act of violence against him. As a result, Talib and his family must move from their home and neighborhood. The relationship between the two boys—once best friends—is sundered, and it may take a miracle to restore it. Marsden’s latest book puts a face on a bitter, centuries-old conflict that continues to rage. Though her characters are mostly interchangeable, their actions are emblematic of the larger conflict. Particularly moving is the wanton destruction of Mutannabi Street, once the cultural capital of Baghdad. This tense novel will be particularly useful in the classroom. - Copyright 2012 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 06/01/2012 This contemporary novel explores the complex and changing relationship between two Iraqi cousins: Nouri, a Shiite who just lost his beloved uncle at the hands of a Sunni car bomber, and Talib, whose father is Shiite and mother is Sunni. As violence increases in their Baghdad neighborhood, so does Nouri’s rage towards his cousin for being half-Sunni, a rage that ultimately climaxes in Nouri sneaking out at night and launching a rock through Talib’s bedroom window. Talib’s family escapes the growing violence against Sunnis to Mutanabbi Street, a neutral zone close to his father’s work, but even Mutanabbi Street proves unsafe as a car bombing results in his father getting injured and the family’s book stall being destroyed. There is no real ending to Nouri and Talib’s story, just as there is no foreseeable end to the Sunni/Shiite conflict, but the two boys do work out an awkward truce. The novel itself concludes with a description of an actual event: in January 2008, snow fell on Baghdad and, as the white flakes fell from the sky, the city fell silent-no gunfire, no mortar shells, just the enveloping white. Marsden’s knack for getting deeply into a culture and creating realistic, believable characters proves effective once again; this is an accessible and engaging window into a specific time and place that will have current relevance to many young readers and units of study. Nouri and Talib alternate narration, with Talib’s voice the more powerful, particularly as he explores his own previously devout religious feelings and questions which side of the conflict Allah is on. Descriptions are evocative, and juxtapositions between everyday realities and the violence effectively hint at the senselessness of the conflict. A brief author’s note and glossary are included. HM - Copyright 2012 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.