This moving, haunting story of a young refugee draws its power from its simplicity, as the girl herself tells her own story, observing what's happening around her in ways kids can absorb. The Day War Came is frank and heartbreaking, but gentle. Author Nicola Davies makes clear this kid is like any other. As her day begins, "My mother made my breakfast, kissed my nose, and walked me to school," where she learned about volcanoes, sang a song about tadpoles, and drew a picture of a bird. Then, "war came," and her home and town are reduced to "rubble," and, though it's downplayed, she loses her family. "War took everyone. I was ragged, bloody, all alone." But when she peers in a school window near her refugee camp, she sees kids "learning all about volcanoes, and singing, and drawing birds." And a kindhearted act of welcome and inclusion from a boy in the class infuses the story with hope.
Rebecca Cobb's art is as affecting as the text. At the start, the girl is smiling, though ominous helicopters loom in the background. The scenes of war and refugee camp contrast starkly, gray and drained of color, and her journey includes images familiar from the news: people crammed into overcrowded trucks and boats. But when she wanders from the camp into the nearby town, we again see color -- bright window boxes and shops with produce -- as well as a foreshadowing glimpse of the boy who will help. This poignant and affecting book can open hearts and connect readers to a difficult subject.