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Alia's Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  303 ratings  ·  81 reviews
The inspiring story of an Iraqi librarian's courageous fight to save books from the Basra Central Library before it was destroyed in the war.
It is 2003 and Alia Muhammad Baker, the chief librarian of the Central Library in Basra, Iraq, has grown worried given the increased likelihood of war in her country. Determined to preserve the irreplacable records of the culture and
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published December 14th 2004 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published 2004)
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Diane Librarian
I am a sucker for a good library story. This is a nice graphic novel based on the true story of Alia Muhammad Baker, who was the chief librarian at the central library in Basra, and in 2003 she managed to save 30,000 books just before the library was destroyed during the invasion of Iraq.

Alia had been concerned that the library was a target because the government had set up operations inside the building. Alia asked the government for permission to move the books, but her request was denied. She
Lisa Vegan
Apr 29, 2012 Lisa Vegan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: independent readers who appreciate books & libraries; readers interested in history
Recommended to Lisa by: Abigail A.
Whew! My last picture book at home. There was quite a pile. Of course, more are in the pipeline, but I really am trying to cut back on children’s picture books so I have more time to read other types of books.

I recently read another book about this woman and this situation, The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq. I did like that book, although I didn’t love it.

I did love this one. There was more background and more explanation. I love how the story didn’t start in the middle, but earlier
Abeer Hoque
I got turned on to illustrator/author Mark Alan Stamaty through my niece's book collection which includes the graphic novelette "Who Needs Donuts" - a black and white illustrated children's book with such intricate and wondrous drawings that any adult or child could stare at a single page entranced.

I looked for other books by him and found this gem: "Alia's Mission" which contains Mr. Stamaty's lovely detailed illustrations (some readers have complained about the panels being too busy, but I fi
Lauren Fidler
this is clearly a junior book, so i'll try to keep that in mind when i review it.

i have to read this novel for a course i'm taking over the summer on comic books and graphic novels. the story is relatively straightforward and short - alia is a dedicated librarian who worries that the cultural history of her city (and country) will become a casualty in the war about to ravage iraq. because books have meant so much to her, she works tirelessly to save 30,000 books from the library before it is ult
Mike Fiore
Mark Alan Stamaty's "Ailia's Mission" is a very short graphic novel. It tells the story of Alia, an Iraqi woman who works as chief librarian in Basra, Iraq. With the threat of the U.S. and British invasion of Iraq looming overhead, Alia makes it her mission to save as many books in the library as possible.

I'm not sure if this is realistic fiction or nonfiction, nut either way it could be used as an informational or historical piece and you could make a case for ethnic literature. If you enjoy an
Appropriate for ages 10+

A true story of how a librarian and her helpers saved 30,000 books from destruction in graphic novel format.

One cannot fail to be moved by the true story of this book. It tells of a librarian, Alia Muhammed Baker, who saved 30,000 books from the library in Basra, Iraq, which would have otherwise burned after the U.S. invasion and subsequent looting. Told in graphic novel format, the story shows how, without government assistance but with the help of many friends and volun
This graphic novel details the true story of Alia, the Chief Librarian of the Basra Central Library. During the Iraq War, Alia led the effort to save over 30,000 books from the Basra Library, which was burnt to the ground. She saved the books by storing them in her own home, a nearby restaurant, anywhere she could find room. The back of the book includes some background history on the libraries of Iraq and the Middle East. This book is most appropriate for ages 9-12. It could be paired with The ...more
A graphic novel to warm the cockles of librarians' hearts everywhere, this tells the story of Alia, a library at the Central Baghdad Library, who realizes when she hears the Americans are coming that the library will most likely be looted and destroyed.

She begins by smuggling books out on her own, but soon enlists the help of friends, neighbors and then random Iraqis to try and save the books of the library. Incredibly, they manage to save some 30,000 volumes from destruction -- because yes,the
Claire Noland
Alia's Mission: saving the Books of Iraq is a graphic novel based on a true story.
Alia is the chief librarian of the Basra Central Libray in 2003. She loves her job because she is surrounded by books. She has been a book lover since childhood and from them she has learned about the long and fascinating history of Iraq. It upset her when she learned about the great fire set when Mongols invaded and destroyed the great Baghdad Library with its irreplaceable treasures. She wonders how people could
My kids seemed to like this book for the illustrations and the basic story of how beloved library books were saved. Myself, I found it overly simplistic --or should I say, the book provoked more questions than it answered. For example, which texts was Alia Muhammad Baker most desperate to save? Were there copies of those books in other libraries or institutions? Was she mainly concerned with preserving her own library collection, since that was her job, or a certain body of literature? When her ...more
Mark Alan Stamaty’s graphic story will resonate with anyone who has ever visited a library. Its simple black and white drawings tell the story of Alia, a woman who lives and works in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s reign. Iraq is on the verge of chaos as Britain and the U.S. are planning to invade the country and remove Hussein from power.

Alia is the head librarian at the Basra Central Library. We are told that “ever since she was a little girl, books have been a source of happiness and adventure f
Katie White
This is an interesting book mostly because it's written in comic book format, which helps students that struggle reading; they can read it through pictures if they need extra help. It also is nice because it tells a story that empowers women, since it talks about a woman who did all she could to save a library after the war breaks out in Iraq. This would be good to include in a 5th grade classroom when linking historical events to current events because they could be learning about current war i ...more
Alia’s mission is a short graphic novel based on the true story of Alia Muhammad Baker, the chief librarian of the Central library in Basra, Iraq. In 2003, Alia knew her library could be destroyed from the first Iraq war. She manually transported library books to safe places. Inspired by her, lots of people joined her and together they saved about 30, 000 books from the library!
Wars are still going on in some places in the world. This book could help people, especially children living in a plac
A great little story about what one woman did all she could to involve her community in saving the books of one of Iraq's great libraries before war came to destroy the city in 2003. Good tool for teaching young students how important libraries are and to what extent one will go to fight for them. The only thing that caused me to pause is the blatant hatred toward and dislike for Saddam Hussein by the people of Iraq depicted in the story. I know he wasn't super popular, but I also doubt every si ...more
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Ages: 11 and up

"Alia's Mission" is a graphic novel and tells the story of a woman who was instrumental in saving over 30,000 books from the Central Library in Basra during the Iraq War.

Alia is a librarian who sees the writing on the wall before her library is destroyed, so she starts sneaking books into her own house and other locations. When the library is ultimately destroyed, only the books she took remain.

This book attempts to provide a different perspective of the Iraq War, but it still h
Stamaty, M. (2004). Alia’s mission: Saving the books of Iraq. New York: Knopf
Nonfiction. This is the story of Alia Muhammad Baker, who was the chief librarian of the Basra Central Library, in Basra, Iraq, in 2003. With the invasion of Iraq, looming in the near future, Alia becomes concerned about the library as “the irreplaceable collective memory of our people.” Stamaty shows Baker requesting the government’s permission to remove the collection from the building; after she is refused, she begi
Stamaty, Mark Alan. Alias’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq: Inspired by a True Story (2004)
This is the true story of Alia Muhammad Baker, the chief librarian of the Central Library in Basra, Iraq. When the invasion of Iraq started in 2003, greatly concerned about the safety of the library and its collection,Alia began a secret relocation of thousands of books. Some she smuggled home in her car and others were passed over the library walls into the restaurant of a friend next door. The library
Grade/Interest Level – Upper Elementary (3rd – 5th)
Reading Level: 850L Lexile
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Main Characters: Alia, husband, neighbors, military officials
Setting: Basrah, Iraq
POV: Narrator

This book is based on a true story. Alia is a woman that grew up loving books. They took her to new and faraway places and introduced her to interesting people she had never seen before. She read all the time in her youth and became very disturbed when she read about the Moguls invading Iraq and destroy
A short but telling graphic novel, Mr. Stamaty’s drawings adroitly portray one woman’s fear that the great literature of her country will be lost because of the destruction of warfare and the government’s vast indifference.

The illustrations are eloquent in conveying mood, activity, background and landscape. It is funny to see Alia’s home filled to the brim with books and poignant when you realize that her efforts aren’t enough.

The black-and-white-and-gray illustrations are matched neatly with
The story of an Iraqi librarian who fought to save the books at the Basra Central Library before it was destroyed in war. In spite of the government’s disapproval, Alia inspired a community of people to save 30,000 books from the library.

Okay, so I made another attempt at reading a graphic novel. Call me a glutton for punishment! Actually, this one was much more accessible for me and I was able to read it with little difficulty. This text was not nearly as busy as "Amelia Rules" as there were fe
People call this a graphic novel, and while the art is technically drawn in sequence it felt more like a picture book for school kids. It's a good story about an Iraqi librarian who saved thousands of books before the public library in Basra got bombed in 2003. As a library school student writing a thesis about the organization of nonfiction graphic novels this felt like the perfect buy. However, now that I've read it I wish I had bought the picture book The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from ...more
Shannon Amici
Reading Level- 3-6

Genre- Non-fiction Picture book

Topic- War is going on in Iraq & Alia is on a mission to save the books from the library

Social- This book relates socially to our time today because of the war that is still going on in Iraq. It could be used to help children get a better understanding.

Literary elements- This book is based on a true story

Curricula Use- Guided reading

Text & Pictures- The pictures are in a comic form which made it hard at first to follow along. Now looking a
Corby Lancaster
Genre- Picture book

Reading Level- 2-6

Topic and Themes- Alia wants to save the books from the library. War is going on around her

Curricula use- Read Aloud and Shared reading

Social- The Iraq war is happening and the library is being used as a headquarters. Alia wants to save the books. The community pulls together and helps her.

Literary Elements- Based on true events

Text and Pictures- This book is written in comic book format. I feel it's an unusual way to portray something so serious

Summary- Alia
I love the story this book told, the drawings were straightforward & were definitely a positive addition to the book. However, I didn't love the way the story was told, especially troublesome were the grand/sweeping statements regarding the people of Iraq's viewpoints & perspectives. Ultimately, I think there are better versions of the story.
For ethnic literature I chose this book. It depicts the war and chaos going on in Iraq and this girl named Alia trying to save their thousands of prized books in the library from there to a safer location and obviously that'll be hard. It shows the lifestyle of Iraq and the people's struggles on a daily basis when war arises.
Linzi Wilkinson
Genre: Picture book

Reading Level: Grade 4-6

Topics & Themes: This book is set during the first Iraq war. Alia saves thousands of books from the local library before the war begins. She is a hero to many people.

Curricular Use: Shared reading, read aloud

Social: This book talks about the Iraq war that we are currently fighting. Be sensitive when talking about this topic because many children might have parents or relatives fighting in the war.

Literary Elements: This books introduces to childre
Alia's Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq tells the remarkable story of Iraqi librarian, Alia Muhammad Baker. In 2003, Alia knew that her library- the Central Library of Basra- could be targeted in the impending war. She courageously begins smuggling books out of the library and brings them to the safety of her home. Other residents of Basra- including the owner of a restaurant close to the library- work with Alia to save the library collection. Alia and her neighbors were able to save over 30,00 ...more
Lady Knight
Great way to tell this story! Very much a good book to read in conjunction with The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq, although "Librarian" is for a younger crowd than this graphic novel (which is probably ideal for 10 though 14 year olds).
Fantastic true story of a brave librarian who organized the saving of thousands of books as the war in Iraq rolled closer and closer. Although the library did burn to the ground, she along with a large part of her neighbours and library users managed
Mavia cheema
This story is about a woman named Alia who is a librarian and wants to save all the books in her library.Because her country is in war.Alia wants to get all the books out before the bombs and attacks fire up the whole library of Baghdad!!! She does not want the books to be destroyed!
If all the books are destroyed then Baghdad culture,religion and history will be destroyed and forgotten.From this story I learned that if we did not have books we would not have knowledge.We would not know history,c
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