FICTION
A Game for Swallows
To Die, to Leave, to Return
. September 2012. 192p. 978-0-76138-856-4.
COPY ISBN
Gr 4 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 enhance 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 embracing family contrast with the stark linear images of 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. Originally created in French and subsequently translated by Edward Gauvin, this superb memoir is destined to become a classic. Barbara M. Moon

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