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April 16, 2014

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Pick of the Day: A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return

star Pick of the Day: A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Returna game for swallows Pick of the Day: A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to ReturnABIRACHED, Zeina. A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return. tr. from French by Edward Gauvin. illus. by author. 192p. diags. maps. CIP. Lerner/Graphic Universe. Sept. 2012. PLB $29.27. ISBN 978-0-7613-8568-4; pap. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-57505-941-9; ebook $21.95. ISBN 978-1-4677-0047-4. LC 201103891.
Gr 5 Up–Zeina and her younger brother are growing up in Beirut, where civil war is a part of daily life. To protect against strikes and sniper fire, the family’s living space has been reduced to the relative security of their apartment foyer, where a rug hanging on the wall, depicting Moses and the Hebrews fleeing Egypt, figures predominantly as a story background. This account chronicles one day in their lives, as the siblings await their parents’ return and neighbors come and spend time with them, building an island of sanctuary for the children during this time of uncertainty. Bold, graphic, black-and-white images are visually and emotionally striking. Excellent use of maps and diagrams provides reference points and enhances understanding of spatial relationships. Unique panel placement includes several sequences of horizontal strips, read as columns. Images portray elapsed time, such as repeated smoking and countdown panels, and control pacing while revealing mounting tension. Excruciating wait time is depicted with cumulative “tic” and “toc” filling successive panels. Circular images of an embracing family contrast with the stark linear images of a war-torn country. Warmth and humor of daily life is shown in baking and storytelling, and wedding-dress close-ups touchingly highlight a mother’s worry over soiling the hem, masking her worry over sniper fire. This superb memoir is destined to become a classic.–Babara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, NY

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