Alia's Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq
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Alia's Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  220 ratings  ·  68 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...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published December 14th 2004 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Community Reviews

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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...more
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...more
A
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...more
528_Tracy
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
Erica
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...more
Christie
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...more
Huong
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
S10_tommccormack
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...more
Kathy
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...more
Chris Murray
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...more
iram
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...more
Michelle
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...more
Jennifer
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...more
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...more
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...more
Carly
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...more
Erikka
The book every librarian needs to read. What would you do, how far would you go, to save the written word from imminent danger? Alia is an inspiration and this story illustrates how vital libraries are in any society.
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...more
Darlene
Genre - nonfiction history

reading level - 3rd grade

topic and themes - Alia wants to save the books

curricula use - guided reading

social - war

literary elements - conflict between Alia and the upcoming war, irony, imagery,

text and pictures - text and pictures connect the story, interesting that it was put together like a comic book

summary - Alia is a librarian and there is a war going on in her country. She is worried about the books and the history of her people being lost so she starts removing t...more
Linda
This is the first graphic novel that I’ve completed. :) The black & white format and drawings that are more like sketches rather than comic-book-like line drawings was appealing to me. This is the true story of Alia Muhammad Baker, the chief librarian of the central Basra, Iraq library, and how she saved a large portion (30,000) of the library’s books from the war. A middle-aged Iraqi woman is an unlikely superhero, but Alia certainly was heroic in her actions to preserve her country’s cultu...more
Abby Johnson
This brief graphic novel tells the true story of Alia Muhammad Baker, who saved the library in Basra, Iraq from destruction. Passionate about books and dedicated to preserving the culture of her hometown, Alia manually transported library books to safe places. She started the efforts herself, gradually recruiting more people from the neighborhood when the government ignored her plight. Thanks to her efforts and the efforts of all the volunteers, tens of thousands of books were removed before the...more
Lindsey
MIDDLE EAST BOOK AWARD WINNER (2005)

Format: Graphic novel
Age level: Elementary
Protagonist: Alia
Set in Iraq

Brief Summary: This is the same story as the picture book The Librarian of Basra. This version is written for an older audience and has some additional details.
I thought the political references were very out of place in the story. The pictures in the background were very violent and showed all soldiers looking the same. I didn't think the story fit a graphic novel format and was rather disa...more
Marina
These books are like people to me. Living, breathing beings, dear, dear friends..

I found this book by accident, what a treat! When war in Iraq lingers closer and closer to the Central Library (and later occupied by soldiers), Alia Muhammad Baker; the chief librarian must find a way to save her beloved books.

The language is easy for young children to understand and I recommend it to everyone of all ages. Like Alia, since I was young, I too have found books to be a source of happiness, adventure,...more
sweet pea
the story of alia is amazing and deserves to be told widely. but unlike the stellar the librarian of basra, this book made absolutely no impact on me. perhaps because of the illustrations. the anthropomorphic book narrator will be haunting my nightmares for months. the people are almost always drawn disproportionate, with their heads too large for their bodies. the story itself turns on the sap a little too much. again, i'm glad the story is getting out there. i just wish this rendering was a li...more
Mckinley
Community comes together to save this resource during warring days .
Sean Gresham
This is a great book that is simmilar to "The Faithful Elephants" in that it talks about war from the perspective of the opposition to the USA. This type of story can cause students to really question war and understand that violence is a bad means to an end. This book is great because it is a more recent event in history and shows students history is happening everyday; history is not just old people from hundreds of years ago. This is a book that should be used 3rd grade and up.
Shawn Cunningham
This books tells of how a woman cared deeply for the history and culture of her own culture, that she will do whatever is necessary to preserve it.

Illustrator: Mark Alan Stamaty
Publisher: Knopf books for young readers
Publication Date: 2004

Audience: 5 - 10 yrs.
specific use: independent reading / guided practice
social issues: how a woman was able to save books she thought was very important.
literacy elements: perseverance in the face of the enemy.
text:
Elizabeth
perfect to pair with the librarian of basra
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