CM . . .
. Volume XVIII Number 1. . . .September 2, 2011
The Little Yellow Bottle.
Angèle Delaunois. Illustrated by Christine Delezenne.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2011.
24 pp., hardcover, $15.95.
Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.
Review by Inderjit Deogun.
Reviewed from Advance Review Copy.
But one day, like a cloud of angry wasps, airplanes flew over our houses.
They spewed out a string of big gray objects that fell on the countryside near our village.
They were bombs, someone said. We heard a few explosions, then an eerie silence fell. No birds sang.
At first, we were terrified. We held our breath. And then, after a few days, as all children do, we forgot a little.
Marwa and Ahmad are the best of friends. Though theirs is a country ravaged by war, the two carefree boys live and breathe the sport of soccer. However, all that changes when one day Ahmad spots a little yellow bottle "shining like gold under the sun." As Ahamd cradles the bottle in his hands, both boys are caught in an intense explosion. The bottle is the remnant of a bomb.
The Little Yellow Bottle is not only a story about war but also a story about survival. Angèle Delaunois tackles this difficult subject matter from Marwa's point of view. The use of first-person narrative gives a unique perspective not often realized or understood. Delaunois has Marwa speak with such honesty it reminds the reader that, though children may live in the midst of war, they, themselves, aren't "at war with anyone."
Christine Delezenne echoes Delaunois's authenticity with images, that at times, are both dark and disturbing. She does not shy away from illustrating the reality of war, but honours children of war by bringing to life its true scope. Delezenne's blend of collage, drawings and texture juxtapose the images of war from a child's perspective. They encapsulate the journey a child of war is forced to take. Though it begins with complete blackness, it can end with a winged soccer ball.
Residing in Mississauga, ON, Inderjit Deogun is currently pursuing a career in publishing with a particular interest in children's literature.
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