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Flowers for Sarajevo — 17 Comments

  1. Emotional, powerful, sad, beautiful…a book with so much to share in the classroom. We have to remember that so many of our students have experienced more in their lifetimes that we will never fully be able to comprehend. The power of a book – a story will meet us and join us together to support one another. I was able to get the book & music together through my SELCO request. 5 stars…Priceless Book.

  2. I liked this story. It has the reader’s emotions flipping and flopping. It is happy in the beginning where all the vendors, regardless of where they came from, are friendly. Then war, death, and sadness. Struggles and perseverance come next, especially for Drasko. Finally, maybe not happiness, but again, a feeling of togetherness and some healing. It is a good read for kids. It could be tied into a lesson about Bosnia, war or tragedy. It might be better received by a bit older kids. I am not sure how easily 2nd graders will understand how a boy can go out and sell flowers the day after a bakery was blown up, killing 22 people just down the street from where he stands.

  3. This was one of my favorite books on the list. I especially liked how it tried to show that we can all “manage to live side by side like the flowers” even though “they had much to argue about”, as they said in the book. The fact that it talked about the differences in people reinforced that thought. It proved that bad things can happen, we need to keep trying, life will go on, and that we need to try to find beauty even in hard things. I didn’t get a chance to listen to the CD, but would do that before reading it to my students. I could tie it in with the music teacher as well to expose the kids to different types of music. It could work with our immigration unit when we talk about how people came to America for various reasons, including wars. This took me back to a discussion we had at our house when my son was in “The Fiddler on the Roof” which lead to some great conversations. *****

  4. Beautiful story of hope and respect. I loved that it was based on actual events, but from the viewpoint of a “bystander,” the boy, who was inspired to share his flowers to bring joy and beauty back to a devastated city. I think the book would be better used at a higher grade level, as some of you have also noted, but also believe it’s an important book to have in a collection.

  5. I truly liked this book because it portrays the power of hope and human resilience. While I do think it is a tough topic for children, especially those privileged to be born in the US, it is important to have available to all. I know that many of my refugee students have come from war-torn places and could relate to this story. I was lucky enough to have checked out a copy of the book with a CD where the author narrates the story and then sings the song he wrote in the back of the book. The CD also includes the song Smailovic played “Albinoni’s Adagio in G Major.” The addition of the audio pieces made this story more moving. I’m not sure where I would use this in a classroom setting, but I certainly see the value of having this book in our school library.

  6. While I think that this is a compelling story of the war torn Balkan region, I would read it to more mature audiences. The history referred to is actually quite recent and haunting. I could see using it for talking about tone and theme.
    4 stars

  7. This an excellent book with beautiful illustrations. This is also an important book that deserves a place in all libraries and classrooms. Children can handle difficult topics – and many of them can do it better than most adults. The best books are mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. This book is one of those. I think it would be important to share this book with children and have conversations. Let them lead the discussion. Answer their questions. Listen to their hearts. We cannot hope to move forward if we cannot have these conversations and help children learn and build empathy for all. 5/5 stars.

  8. I liked this book. I felt this book would better be suited to the older grades. I would read it to my younger students for making them aware of historical events. I agree with Mary in having students think of ways to honor people. I think it could be read in conjunction with Memorial Day. I rate it a 5.

  9. I liked this book because it was so thoughtful in the story that it told. I don’t know how I would use this book in the my curriculum, maybe as a read aloud and then talk about the historical side of it. I think it’d be usable in realistic/historical fiction. Although children might enjoy reading it independently, I would like to read it with or to them, so that the lessons and talking points are missed.
    ****

  10. What a gem! Flowers for Sarajevo demonstrates the best of humanity surviving the worst of humanity. I really appreciated the research section and the CD that comes in this book! As an adult, I wanted to know more about this story. The end of the book contains historical background information, the author’s note explains in detail the true story that the book is based upon, and music with guitar chords! Wow, John McCutcheon really provides way more than the heart-breaking story of war! This book is the whole package! I’m this book SIX STARS!!!

  11. This is a fantastic story with a powerful message. It’s a book that should be read aloud and discussed from 2nd grade through 5th grade. There is so much to learn and discuss about this period of time. Discussion and activities around what a hero really is should also be included. As students get older the music teacher could help students learn the song. The history of that time is included in the back of the book as we as the background of the song. The illustrations are perfect for the story. This is the best of all the books!!

  12. I am always grateful for books that can help my students try and understand the lives of children around the world. I think that this would pair well with “Four Feet, Two Sandals” to show the life of children who live in areas at war. I think this specific book would be fantastic to talk with students about the author’s note, and how heroes don’t have to be at the war front–people can act heroically by doing an action that helps others through a hard time. The cellist used the skills he had to be a positive force in the days after the bombing.
    I would definitely play the CD recording of the cellist for students. It might actually be interesting to start the lesson by playing the piece and having students think of an emotion the piece brings to mind.
    4.5 stars

  13. A powerful book! Certainly a read aloud. It shows the persistence of a community to come together, honor each other, and work to restore life. The author’s note and the regional maps at the end of the book are better suited for an adult.
    I also liked the overview of Vedran Smallovic’s life in the back of the book. I would introduce Vedran and play the song by the author John McCutcheon prior to reading the story. *****

  14. A very powerful book. To focus the story on Drasko makes this a children’s book that children can relate to. Following the characters in a time of great emotion, shows readers how stress and confusion can effect everyone in a community. The Cellist of Sarajevo seems to be just another character in the story, but really becomes the main focus. Vedran Smailovic was the real Cellist of Sarajevo and my copy of the book included a CD with his playing of Adagio in G Minor (which he played each of those 22 days) and John McCutchen’s “Streets of Sarajevo,” which features both McCutchen and Smailovic. Also included in the book are the music and words of “Streets of Sarajevo.” While the story is very powerful, the illustrations really bring out the emotions of time. Kristy Caldwell used color so well, bringing vision to the emotions of the story.

  15. This is a very well written book. It allows children to see what life is like for other children of the world in a non-graphic/childish way. As my nine year old read it with me she started having empathy for the characters. In second grade I would make this a read-a-loud book. I rate this book a 9.

  16. This was a great book. The story of love and respect for others was something that kids need to hear more of! I think this could be used in curriculum, but probably a little bit older kids. If used with younger grades this may be something that could be read as a class. I would have students think about what things they could do to honor others. It would be hard though because I feel like some of this is just not appropriate and over their heads.
    I rate this book 5 stars.

  17. I read this book to my 4 year old and was expecting it to be way over his head, but he loved it. As a first grade teacher, I can’t think of a way that I’d use it with my curriculum, but could see it being used with older grades for sure. It’s a wonderful perspective from a terrible moment in history.

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