The Day War Came


A moving, poetic narrative and child-friendly illustrations follow the heartbreaking, ultimately hopeful journey of a little girl who is forced to become a refugee.

The day war came there were flowers on the windowsill and my father sang my baby brother back to sleep.

Imagine if, on an ordinary day, after a morning of studying tadpoles and drawing birds at school, war came to your town and turned it to rubble. Imagine if you lost everything and everyone, and you had to make a dangerous journey all alone. Imagine that there was no welcome at the end, and no room for you to even take a seat at school. And then a child, just like you, gave you something ordinary but so very, very precious. In lyrical, deeply affecting language, Nicola Davies’s text combines with Rebecca Cobb’s expressive illustrations to evoke the experience of a child who sees war take away all that she knows.--from the publisher

32 pages           978-1536201734            Ages 6-9

Read alike:  Color of Home by Mary Hoffman; Marwan's Journey; The Treasure Box


“I don’t believe in guarded borders and I don’t believe in hate

I don’t believe in generals or their stinking torture states

And when I talk to the survivors of things too sickening to relate

If I had a rocket launcher, I would retaliate.”

-- Bruce Cockburn “Rocket Launcher” (1984)

“Wars and persecution have driven more people from their homes than at any time since UNHCR records began, according to a new report released today by the UN Refugee Agency. The report, entitled Global Trends, noted that on average 24 people were forced to flee each minute in 2015, four times more than a decade earlier, when six people fled every 60 seconds.The detailed study, which tracks forced displacement worldwide based on data from governments, partner agencies and UNHCR’s own reporting, found a total of 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of 2015...Distressingly, children made up an astonishing 51 per cent of the world’s refugees” (6/20/2016)

“That morning I learned about volcanoes. I sang a song about how tadpoles turn at last into frogs. I drew a picture of a bird.

Then, just after lunch, war came.

At first, just like a spattering of hail, a voice of thunder…

Then all smoke and fire and noise that I didn’t understand.

It came across the playground.

It came into my teacher’s face.

It brought the roof down and turned my town to rubble.’

THE DAY WAR CAME movingly depicts the travails of a girl who is forced to flee after her school is bombed, and she discovers that all that’s left of her home is a blackened hole. As part of a mass exodus, she rides in the back of packed pickups and on a boat that leaks and almost sinks.

She eventually arrives in a place where she is not welcomed. She finds a school where “they were learning all about volcanoes, and singing, and drawing birds.” But an unsmiling teacher tells her that, “There is no room for you, you see. There is no chair for you to sit on. You have to go away.”

The story concludes with a local child bringing her a chair, and assuring her that his young friends are doing the same for other refugee children.

The atmospheric, eye-catching illustrations are done in pencil, colored pencils, and watercolors.

We learn in school how, era after era, those already in America oppose and vilify the latest arrivals. We should teach young people that we can and need to be generous and empathetic. And that we’ll all still have enough for ourselves.

“We’re going to restore our moral standing in the world and our historic role as a safe haven for refugees and asylum seekers and those fleeing violence and persecution.”

-- Joe Biden (8/6/2020)

We can and should strive to accommodate a far greater number of refugees beyond the handful we’ve permitted in recent years.

THE DAY WAR CAME makes it easy to imagine being that homeless child. It will make a terrific starting point for learning about why so many millions of children are in such desperate straits, and how we might help them.

Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA

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