How One Boy Put the Spotlight on Syria
by Muhammad Najem
and Nora Neus
illustrated by Julie Robine
colors by Shin-Yeon Moon
Little, Brown and Company, 2022. 314 pages.
Review written May 10, 2023, from a library book.
This amazing graphic memoir tells the story of a Syrian kid who decided to let the world know what was going on in Syria — from the perspective of kids who lived there.
The war in Syria began when he was only eight years old. When he was thirteen, his father was praying at the mosque and was killed by a missile. His father had always been one to listen to everyone he met. He’d bring home their stories and tell his kids, “Everyone has a story.”
So when Muhammad got to be fifteen, he wanted to imitate his father and tell the world the stories of kids still living in the war zone of Syria. He began taking videos and posting them online. People warned him not to show his face, but he wanted to prove that real kids were being affected by the fighting. He hoped if the world knew what was happening, they wouldn’t be forgotten.
And then one day, Nora Neus of CNN contacted Muhammad. It turned out to be a few days before a big siege of Eastern Ghouta, where he and his family lived. But they moved to another part of Syria during a cease-fire, and CNN did an online article about him. That article went viral, and the world began to pay attention. Though there’s plenty of tension, because the fame makes Muhammad a target, and throughout the book his life is in danger.
This graphic memoir tells Muhammad’s story in a riveting way. It’s a story of a kid making a difference while lives were being uprooted all around him.
Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/muhammad_najem.html
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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.
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