A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers learn about the current conflict in Ukraine and some cultural information about Ukraine through the eyes of a 12-year-old girl.
Positive Role Models
Yeva is brave and curious. She shows perseverance in recording her experiences and understands the importance of sharing her story. Yeva and her grandmother look after each other and remain resilient in the face of war. Neighbors, family, friends, Red Cross volunteers, strangers, clergy, and news people assist Yeva and her grandmother.
The main characters are Ukranian. There's some ethnic diversity as Yeva and her grandmother meet people from other parts of Europe as they travel across Ukraine and beyond.
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Violence & Scariness
Yeva sees planes, missiles, and tanks. She hears explosions, bombs, and machine gun fire in Kharkiv. Yeva sees destroyed buildings, cars, and streets. After fleeing Kharkiv, Yeva and her grandmother learn that a bomb hit their apartment building and that their kitchen was destroyed and furniture broken. Yeva mentions casualties and bodies in general terms but does not witness any. Her grandmother tells her about a woman whose husband was killed when bomb fragments tore his body.
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One instance of "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Tweens communicate via text and group chat on their phones and use Instagram.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that You Don't Know What War Is: The Diary of a Young Girl from Ukraine, by Yeva Skalietska, is written by a 12-year-old girl who lives in Kharkiv with her grandmother. Yeva's diary entries begin on her birthday, 10 days before the war starts. Yeva's an engaging narrator and demonstrates courage, resilience, and perseverance as she and her grandmother seek safety across Ukraine and beyond. She describes her fear and panic as she hears explosions and sees missiles and tanks. Yeva doesn't witness any violence toward people, but she mentions casualties and a person who was killed by a bomb. The book includes a few black-and-white photos, including one of a bombed-out apartment building and others showing the destruction of Yeva's bedroom and kitchen in the apartment where she lived with her grandmother, neighborhood kids playing in a basement shelter, and happy photos of her before the war and after she finds refuge and a new school in Ireland.
Is It Any Good?
This is a simply told and important story about current events, giving the war in Ukraine a name and a face. In You Don't Know What War Is: The Diary of a Young Girl from Ukraine, Yeva is an engaging narrator. Through a child's eyes, she witnesses the horrors of war and also the courage and perseverance of the Ukranian people. Young readers will relate to Yeva, a tween who texts her friends, takes piano lessons, and cherishes her favorite stuffed animal (a pink cat). Readers will learn about courage and perseverance as they follow Yeva's journey to safety with her grandmother.
Although this slim book is not graphic, Yeva describes her intense feelings of fear and panic as she constantly hears bombs and explosions during the first days of the war. She also refers to her sadness as Kharkiv is destroyed and she is separated from her home and friends. However, the book ends with positivity and hope. Yeva's gratitude and curiosity shine through as travels to different places and starts a new life.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.