Sami and the Time of the Troubles by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland
Ten-year-old Sami lives in Beirut, Lebanon. Because of gunfire and bombing in the streets, he and his family spend much of their time in the basement of an uncle's house. There they listen to the radio or stare at the carpets Sami's mother insisted on bringing along as reminders of a normal life. When there is a lull in the fighting, the boy enjoys a day at the beach or meets with a friend to make a fort and play at war. "When we are older, we will have real guns," says Amir. Sami disagrees. "The fighting will be over then. It cannot last forever." At the story's end, Sami and his family are back underground listening as the "noises of the night" begin. As in The Day of Ahmed's Secret (Lothrop, 1990), three marvelously talented collaborators offer a powerful, poignant book. Heide and Gilliland's lyrically written, haunting story makes clear that war threatens not only physical existence but affects the human spirit as well, while Ted Lewin's watercolor illustrations capture contemporary Beirut with stunning clarity and drama.