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Flowers for Sarajevo

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  385 ratings  ·  106 reviews
The moving story of a young boy who discovers the power of beauty and kindness during a time of war. Drasko helps his father sell flowers in Sarajevo, but when war threatens and his father is called to the battlefront, Drasko must take over the flower stall. One morning the boys familiar routine is shattered when a mortar shell hits the bakery, killing twenty-two people. T ...more
Audio CD, 36 pages
Published April 1st 2017 by Peachtree Publishers
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Average rating 4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  385 ratings  ·  106 reviews

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Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
So well told, so well thought out, so heartbreaking yet hopeful. Loved it.
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Every now and then an illustrated children’s book wil add dimension to a well-known story. Among them, Blowin' in the Wind and The Train They Call the City of New Orleans.

This book, historical fiction for children, comes from an event known as The Cellist of Sarajevo, which inspired the novel The Cellist of Sarajevo. That book, historical fiction for adults, turned me on to the incident, although the author used the story of the cellist without his permission. Nonetheless, I liked the story, wh
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Children's Stories About the Balkan War, or Children in War in General
Drasko and his father sold flowers in the marketplace of Sarajevo until war came to their part of the world, and Drasko's father had to leave to fight. Continuing on as best he could, Drasko observed the growing grimness of a city under siege, and witnessed a terrible atrocity the day that Sarajevo's only functioning bakery was bombed, slaughtering twenty-two people whose only crime was waiting in line for bread. But then, amidst the carnage and terror, he witnessed something extraordinary: the ...more
Angela Blount
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
Originally reviewed for YA Books Central:

Haunting and hopeful.

The bombing one of the last working bakeries in the city of Sarajevo might have been remembered as just one more senseless act of violence at the height of a terrible ethnic war, if not for the venerable tribute of a lone cellist. The day following the explosion he donned a tuxedo, carried a chair to the crater, and played Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor—a moving and unfinished piece. He came at t
Jillian Heise
A fabulous picture book told with heart about the toll of war & the humanity & beauty & hope that can survive. Fascinating story of hope in despair and muted illustrations emphasize the power of this book. Extensive back matter includes historical context for the region and wars, an authors note on inspiration for the story, short biography of the cellist, and song lyrics, sheet music, and a CD with recording of the cello solo played and song inspired by the events.
Alex  Baugh
I can still remember watching the 1984 Winter Olympics held in Sarajevo, especially that stunning performance of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean ice skating to Bolero, for which they earned perfect scores down the line.

Yet, less than 10 years later, that once beautiful city was under siege by Serbs and Bosnian Serbs, a blockade that lasted from April 1992 to February 1996, with daily sniper shelling and mortar attacks.

Flowers for Sarajevo is based on a true story that came out of the siege.
This is a beautiful picture book that shows the horrors of war and one musician's refusal to give up playing in the face of danger and terror. Told from the point of view of young Drasko, a boy selling flowers in the market square, this is the story of Vedran Smailovic, a cellist for the Sarajevo Opera Orchestra. After a bombing that killed 22 people, he emerged from the rehearsal building to play beautiful music. He repeated this act for 22 days in a row, one for each of the victims. The illust ...more
Addie Hincks
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. The illustrations helped establish a clear picture of the town square in Sarajevo, telling the story from the perspective of Drasko, the son of a flower salesman. The illustrations follow the mood of the story- bright hues at the beginning of the book fade to more muted colors in the aftermath of the bombing, then slowly come back as the cellist plays, and images of broken glass accompany Drasko's feelings of fear. I wish the author had included bits of his song's lyrics in th ...more
Lin Lin
At a market in Sarajevo, a boy manages his flower stand after his dad left to fight in the war. An unexpected bombing killed 22 people and left the city in grief. A musician from a nearby orchestra started playing his cello every day for 22 days to commemorate each life killed in the accident. A real story, this book reminds us that each of us has the capacity to find the beauty and kindness within ourselves when violence and hatred seek to destroy and control the world.
Vera Godley
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing

ISBN13: 9781682630006
My thoughts: This is a powerful picture book whose impact can easily span a broad scope of ages for interest and direction into understanding the humanity of those whose lives are ruined by war and how kindness can lead the people through the darkness of the occasion.

John McCutcheon has taken an actual place and actual event where the Serb and Croatian war led to the Siege of Sarajevo. He has brought into the story how the war impacted the family of Drasko who is a young boy
Marissa Elera
Incredibly moving, will bring you to tears if you stat playing the song the cellist plays in the book. I love the clean, beautiful illustrations.
Niki (Daydream Reader)
"This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before." - Leonard Bernstein ...more
Simon Gianoutsos
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very short but moving story. As an audiobook it was quite different to have music and a song in it, and an interview with the author, and then for the story to continue. I thought it worked remarkably well. A great way to learn about history in a fun way.
Drasko loves helping his father sell flowers, and he is particularly struck by the man's ability to smell out the best roses. He wonders about his generosity, though, since the man even gives flowers to another grumpy merchant. Since there is war in the country, Drasko's father must fight and leaves the flowers under Drasko's charge. The other merchants claim the prime areas for selling, and Drasko is pushed further and further from the center of things. When an explosion kills 22 individuals wh ...more
Laura La Rosa
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Listed on the National Council of Social Studies Notable Trade Books for Young People, this book highlights an often forgotten story of the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. This fictional story follows a young boy who sells flowers in Sarajevo after his father is taken away to the war. After an attack in Sarajevo that led to the death of 22 people who were simply trying to buy bread, a cellist decides to play the same song in the square in honor of the 22 people died. This act inspires the boy and thos ...more
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Flowers for Sarajevo is a historical fiction picture book based on the mortar attack on Sarajevo, Bosnia in May 27th 1992. This fictional story based on research tells the story of a boy who sells flowers in the marketplace in Sarajevo for his family while his dad is at war. He has been pushed out of all the good spots in the marketplace by the other merchants and is forced to sell his flowers in a bad location in the square. The only good part about his spot is that he can listen to the orchest ...more
Andy Plemmons
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Touching story from @peachtreepublishers that reminds us that even in times of grief we can offer beauty and kindness to one another.
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
Much needed and well done. Highly recommended for schools.
Based on true events, this picture book for older readers is set in Sarajevo during their 1992 war. It explores how music can be a moment of shared grief, a tribute to those lost, and a restorative power. I don't think the author did the best job incorporating a fictional boy into Vedran Smailovic's compelling story. It felt contrived, especially since the cellist's story was obviously the heart of the story. It was nice that a CD containing the piece Smailovic played for 22 days was included, b ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
"All of us—Serb and Croat, Muslim and Christian—stand side by side, listening to a language we all understand." ...more
Edward Sullivan
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, picture-books, music
A heroic musician unites and inspires people in war-torn Sarajevo. Includes a CD of McCutcheon's song "Streets of Sarajevo" and an audio recording of the story. ...more
Michele Knott
Find the hope, beauty and kindness to fight violence.
Beautiful and moving story.
Dorine White
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the market square of Sarajevo is the flower stall of Milo. Drasko is his son and trains with his father to sniff out the best roses. Milo teaches his son that despite all the differences between the people that live in Sarajevo, that just like flowers, they can live side by side and be beautiful.

When war comes to the country, Drasko is left alone to tend the flower stall while his father goes to fight. People become bad-tempered and poor Milo is pushed into the worst corner of the square. The
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
Drasko sells flowers with his father in the marketplace in Sarajevo. They sell the best roses in the entire city. But when war came, Drasko’s father leaves to fight and Drasko is alone selling flowers. He is pushed out of their usual spot to one at the edge of the market. The only good thing is that he can now hear the symphony playing. Suddenly, the market is hit by a mortar and 22 people are killed. Drasko returns to the market the next day, but all is silent and empty. Then a man with a cello ...more
It took a while to get this book. Kristy Caldwell has arranged the colors in her beautiful illustrations as often illustrators do, somber browns and grays reflecting the tone, bright colors appear when kindness does. I remember how beautiful the Olympic Games were in Sarajevo, the first time a Communist country had hosted. Then not much later, the places there, among so many others, were destroyed. It was a terrible time. This book is perhaps the most poignant, focusing on a young boy, Drasko, ...more
This is a heartbreakingly beautiful story.

This story follows Drasko, a young boy who sells flowers with his father in the Sarajevo marketplace. His father is kind, and teaches him about compassion, empathy, and kindness. However, his father is soon drafted into the war, and he had to run the flower stand alone. There is a sudden tragedy: a mortar hit the local bakery, killing twenty-two civilians. Sorrow and disbelief encompass the town (this feeling is described poignantly: "The next day the s
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Drasko and his father are flower sellers in the marketplace in Sarajevo. Drasko’s father makes an effort every day to get along with everyone and make even the grouchiest seller feel special. But one day the country is at war, and even Drasko’s father must go away to fight. Drasko sees a change in the marketplace. People are not nice to each other any more, and gradually he gets moved to the worst place in the market - no shade, no water, but he is by where the orchestra practices, so it’s not a ...more
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Although in picture book format, large pages with illustrations that cover the whole page, this book is for an older audience. It discusses the war in Bosnia and focuses on the event where 22 people were killed in a bombing of the market square in Sarajevo.
It’s main character is young Drasko who has to continue selling flowers even after his father has left to fight in the war. Although with his father he had a prime spot on the market, now that he is by himself he is forced to stand by the buil
This particular incident of the Balkan Wars occured when I was 12 years old & just starting to really hit the teenage-self-absorption stride, where anything that wasn't completely about me just didn't penetrate. I was aware that there was a great deal of fighting somewhere in a place called Sarajevo, & that people were being seriously hurt & killed, but that was about it. Reading this story, particularly the details in the afterword, had me teary-eyed - both that such horrors happened (without m ...more
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book. A young boy tells of being a flower vendor with his father where Serbs and Croats, Christians and Muslims "manage to live side by side" despite all they have to argue about. But when his father has to go to war, the boy becomes responsible for keeping "the flowers fresh and our family fed." The boy notices that the vendors are no longer friendly, people are tired and tense.

Through his perspective, the book recounts the incident in Sarajevo in 1992 in which 22 people were k
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

John McCutcheon is an American folk music singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and writer.

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