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Poppies of Iraq

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,285 ratings  ·  244 reviews
A personal account of an Iraqi childhood

Poppies of Iraq is Brigitte Findakly's nuanced tender chronicle of her relationship with her homeland Iraq, co-written and drawn by her husband, the acclaimed cartoonist Lewis Trondheim. In spare and elegant detail, they share memories of her middle class childhood touching on cultural practices, the education system, Saddam Hussein'
Hardcover, 120 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published August 2016)
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Sarah Older YA (14-15+) or adult will appreciate the book far more. Some of the themes and discussion will go over the heads of younger readers.

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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  1,285 ratings  ·  244 reviews

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David Schaafsma
Dec 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: gn-memoir, gn-women
Poppies of Iraq is a pretty good title for this book, it seems to me. The anecdotes the author shares with us and which her artist husband Lewis Trondheim illustrates are loosely organized, roughly chronological, and is an attempt to highlight where possible the "good memories" of her growing up in Iraq. Findakly's family summered in France, but as political circumstances worsened, they finally moved there.

The audience for this book would seem to be people who are curious about people who grew
Elizabeth A
This graphic memoir shares "memories of her middle class childhood touching on cultural practices, the education system, Saddam Hussein's state control, and her family's history as Orthodox Christians in the Arab world."

It should have worked, as it's not often that we get such a close up look into the lives of people only seen as a problem or collateral damage here in the Western news. It didn't work because it felt too disjointed in the telling, and while there were some really illuminating ane
Krista Regester
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Brigitte Findakly does a good job of expressing how it felt to live in a place while it was under chaos. Sometimes the story was disjointed, perhaps because the timeline was jumpy.
Stewart Tame
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Brigitte Findakly was born in Iraq, in 1959. Her mother was French, her father Iraqi. Her family lived in Iraq until 1973, when they moved to France. Poppies of Iraq is a series of autobiographical scenes from her life. It jumps around in time a bit, giving the book something of a disjointed feel.

On the whole, the book is pleasant enough. Even when horrible things happen, Brigitte's childhood perspective and Lewis Trondheim's clear line style serve to blunt the tone considerably. It's nice to g
Dov Zeller
this is a beautiful graphic memoir by Brigitte Findakly, illustrated by her husband Lewis trondheim. It jumps around a lot in time and space and at first, I found it confusing and disorganized and almost put it down. I'm glad I didn't. Gradually I got to know the characters and the tones and rhythms of the book and what I found was a story about a quirky family trying to survive and even thrive in a confusing and often violent and often beautiful world.

Findaky's family is Christian going back m
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Did I learn a few things? Yes. But it jumped around a little too much. However, that said, it was a super quick book.
Stephanie Johnson
This is the story of growing up in Iraq and subsequently the dispersal of a family over the years due to the turbulent and unstable position of the country. The coloring of the story was vibrant and complimented the autobiographical nature of the story. I found the sections about the customs and history of Iraq part of why the book was so great—the reader isn't only getting the life story of an Iraqi born woman, they are learning the life story of a country and culture that is often negatively p ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The is a very informative graphic novel. I learned a lot about the author and her life in Iraq. It might be a hard book to sell to my teens when I booktalk, but I know there will be some who will like it. They really should read it. Life in America is so different from other countries around the world, and reading a book like this makes me feel very grateful to live here.
Irene McHugh
The vast majority of this graphic novel memoir worked for me. The author was born in Iraq in 1959, her family spent summers in her mother's home country of France, and the family eventually moved to France in the late 1970s as Iraq became increasingly politically unstable.

While most of the anecdotes are told in chronological order, some are told to introduce other people in Brigitte's life to help understand the conflict and her sense of frustration. Her return visits to Iraq from the 1980s forw
A graphic novel that tells the history of a woman’s family in Iraq. Her family is Christian in a region that is largely Muslim. Findakly tracies the history of Iraq and her family’s place in it.

The drawings are simply, but contain good details.

I enjoyed the story, but found myself confused by the non-linear timeline.
Rod Brown
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Despite many good vignettes and anecdotes, this autobiography is too random and unstructured for me, skipping around through the upbringing of the co-author in Iraq and France. The intermittent inclusion of real family photos drove home the impression I had of sitting on the sofa in a stranger's house as she flips through pages of a family scrapbook telling occasionally humorous stories about a bunch of people I don't really know. While it isn't painful, I'm mostly going to nod politely until I ...more
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've read some of the lower rated reviews of this comic and I completely agree with the criticisms against it (the stories are disjointed, the b&w pictures interwoven throughout the work are too small, hard to see, and could have greatly benefited from being labelled), but I can't deny that I greatly enjoyed reading this quiet little book.

Findakly's vignettes do feel a bit disjointed, but to me, they equated to something that was greater than the sum of its parts. The stories are quiet and only
I've been hearing good things about Poppies of Iraq for the last few months, and I was able to check out this copy as soon as my library had gotten it in. It definitely didn't disappoint.

The art is cute, and it drives home the fondness of some memories, and the seriousness of others. The colours really brought the whole thing to life. The story itself was wonderfully told. I feel like I learned a lot about Iraq's history and culture (of which I knew very very little), and Findakly's personal sto
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Poppies of Iraq is a lovely collection of vignettes about Findalky's upbringing in Iraq and Paris. At times it felt disjointed but once I got in the groove, it added to the charm of the book. Recommend for anyone looking to read more about Arab Christians and a modern history of Iraq.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-fiction
This is a really great and accessible look at life in Iraq over the lifetime of the author. The choice to present it as a graphic novel makes the content accessible and interesting to a YA audience... and also for adults. My only complaint is the way the timeline jumps around. I did find that confusing. Overall, it was a great read and I look forward to putting it in my school library.
This book is author Brigitte Findakly's memories of her family and her homeland Iraq, illustrated by her talented husband, the acclaimed cartoonist Lewis Trondheim. Sadly, the book is disappointing: the narrative is very disjointed, jumping around between actual historical events in Iraq, her family's struggles with its social, military, and economic standing, and a myriad of cultural and religious issues, especially challenging for Christians in an Islamic state. I would have liked a little mor ...more
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Her experiences of growing up in Iraq give kids and adults a "history lesson" without being preachy. It's just her life experiences - just the facts. Illustrations are wonderful.
Stephanie Tournas
Findakly and Trondheim, married and both cartoonists, team up on this absorbing memoir about Findakly's childhood in Iraq, 1959-1973. Personal recollections about her Orthodox Christian family alternate with historical tidbits about life under Saddam Hussein's oppressive regime. Unframed panels with free-floating paragraphs of dialogue showcase family events and historical events with short, big-headed sausage-like people, giving them a homey feel and portraying the regime as bumbling and slight ...more
Amanda [Novel Addiction]
This was a random pick up because I'm currently obsessed with nonfiction graphic novels.. and I'm so glad I did! It was so interesting to see what life was like in Iraq before the war, and before ISIS. It's amazing how much it has changed in such a relatively short time period. And now, I want to read even more about it.
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it

“In Iraq, before a wedding, the future husband is asked if he wants his fiancee’s pubic hair completely removed or left as is.”

This clearly comes after the success of “The Arab of The Future” and I can just imagine various publishing houses scrambling to find their own version of Middle Eastern childhoods. The drawing is OK and the colouring quite impressive.

"The police force was in chaos and the Americans were protecting nothing but their own interests."

The stories are a little fragmented and
Maggie Gordon
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Poppies of Iraq is a disjointed memoir about growing up in and then away from Iraq. While there are some good moments, given the format of using brief memories, it is hard to really dig into any one theme, be it about the country or simply the people that Findakly is writing about. The narrative ends up feeling superficial, dealing with themes that have a lot of weight, but without really exploring them.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
The art was lovey and highly enjoyable, I am fond of Trondheim’s style and Findakly has a great use of color.

The content jumps around, but that’s understandable, what I was annoyed at was that many things were unclear or I didn’t understand how, or if, things were resolved. Not sure if this is an issue of translation, a cultural gap, purposeful ambiguity or if information is just not there.

Her experiences are interesting and I would check out more of her work.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it
This is an interesting read, especially in comparison to Persepolis and Arab of the Future in the broad category of memoir comics about living in the Middle East and then France. Their experiences were all so different but similar. Their narrative and artistic approaches are all especially different. If you often gravitate towards memoirs like this, you'll probably enjoy it.

The art is striking due to its use of white space instead of lines to delineate panels. You have this tiny colorful image,
Kevin Keating
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've never really thought about how it must have sucked to live in Iraq for the last 60 years, in general. This author was a daughter of a rather wealthy connected guy, so it's probably better than most. But still bad. This was a graphically drawn non-fiction account. It flowed pretty well and I'm glad I read it. Learned a lot.
I like this in theory, but in the classic creative writing idiom of "show, don't tell," it mostly felt like a lot of telling and little showing. Each episode seemed like it could contain a book in itself. I would revisit Findakly if other work offered more in depth insights.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
A sketched account of how a society falls into an authoritarian (totalitarian?), well, let’s say dictatorship and decline. The sections on Iraqi history and culture were interesting. It lost a bit when focused on her family. The layout of tiny illustrations with text above, with little dialogue or narrative, didn’t serve the story of the actual people well.

Too impressionistic and disjointed to make enough of an emotional impact considering the subject matter.
Philip Girvan
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Told from the perspective of the author, as she moves from girlhood to adulthood, his illustrated memoir conveys the despair and hopelessness of a relatively liberal society slowly moving into totalitarianism. Its content and style invites comparison to titles like Persepolis or The Arab of the Future.

Though much briefer than those multi-volume sets, it is not without its charm.
Marsha Altman
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, art, history
This is an adorable book about the author's childhood in Iraq in the 60's and 70's, then their family's move to France, with some updates on modern Iraq. My only qualm with it is that it's not chronological, so sometimes it's hard to orient a particular story in the overall narrative.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Vignettes of growing up in Iraq with a French mother & Iraqi father and of returning over time to the changes wrought by violence, war and an oppressive government. It was reminiscent of Arab of the Future, without as clear a narrative. I enjoyed the art and the voice, and many of the spare telling details. ...more
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Writer and colourist, Brigitte Findakly was born in Mosul, Iraq, in 1959 and lived there until 1973. Findakly has worked as a colorist since 1982, with work for Disney and Spirou. She also colored a number of graphic novels including "The Rabbi's Cat," "The Spiffy Adventures of McConey," and "Ralph Azham."

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