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The Day War Came

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  641 ratings  ·  186 reviews
A moving, poetic narrative and child-friendly illustrations follow the heartbreaking, ultimately hopeful journey of a little girl who is forced to become a refugee.

The day war came there were flowers on the windowsill and my father sang my baby brother back to sleep.

Imagine if, on an ordinary day, after a morning of studying tadpoles and drawing birds at school, war came t
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Candlewick Press (first published 2018)
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Average rating 4.50  · 
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 ·  641 ratings  ·  186 reviews

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Whispering Stories
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Book Reviewed by Stacey on

After finishing this book I sat and thought for a while about how I felt about the story. I love the idea of the book and what Ms. Davies has tried to achieve with her words, alongside the illustrations by Rebecca Cobb. However, I can’t say I feel the message will be understood properly by the ages of the children the book is aimed at.

Let me explain. We first meet a little girl who is happy at home with her family, mum, dad and baby brother. Sh
David Schaafsma

The Day the War Came is a picture book featuring a poem written by Nicola Davies in response to the UK refusing to give sanctuary to 3000 unaccompanied child refugees. Beautifully illustrated by Rebecca Cobb, it tells the story of a little girl having breakfast with her parents and little sister on the day the war came. Then she goes to school and learns about volcanoes and draws a bird and then the war came in the form of bombs blasting her former life away. Everything changes, of co
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Hilary by: Found in the library
Shelves: war
I'm giving 2 stars as this book is aimed at young children, preschool I would guess but I feel the subject matter is too disturbing for that age group. A young girl is shown living with her happy family and then war comes to the place she where lives,after an explosion the school chairs fly through the air, she crawls through rubble and burning buildings. She is shown alone and frightened, walking through streets alone, being turned away from a school, hiding under a rug in a ruin. Then a child ...more
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A simply told yet powerful picture book about the innocence of childhood and a world torn apart by the advent of war. This is all about the loss of the world that we once new, the loss of family and the difficult journey of a refugee traveling towards a new country.

'The Day War Came' is about the real human cost of war through the eyes of innocence, through the eyes of a child - it's about the search to find welcome. This is a well written, moving and important book - it's a story about toleranc
Although I can on a personal and emotional level understand and accept those readers (and especially parents) who might consider Nicola Davies' picture book The Day War Came as too potentially disturbing for very young children (for the so-called picture book crowd), on an even deeper and more philosophical level I for one actually have had and continue to have an entirely different (an entirely opposite) reaction, namely that The Day War Came simply but poignantly, powerfully shows and demonstr ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens, refugees
Kudos to Nicola Davies for trying to write a book for children about the plight of refugees and for her financial support donating book proceeds to a British refugee organization. For me, the book left too many questions unanswered: where did this happen? what happened to the little girl's family? where did she go? I think these questions were intentionally left unanswered, but I think a curious child would want more information. And the symbolism of a refugee child being turned away from a scho ...more
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
A devastating book that does a beautiful job of illustrating how war can come to anyone at any time and what that must be like. A devastating book to help develop understanding and open hearts.

This poem was originally written in response to a story of a refugee child who wasn't accepted into a school because there wasn't an available chair for her. (See #3000 chairs referring to the UK refusing to give sanctuary to 3000 child refugees.)

"Recently the United States limited the annual number of re
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
The text, according to the note, was first a poem aimed at adults. I think that I would find it more effective that way. But since the narrator is a child, and those who are compassionate are children, it makes sense that this became a picture book. Now of course it's intense. And you won't want to just hand it to your child. But it does tell the horrible truth in a way that youngsters can appreciate, and you can help your own child grow to be a more generous citizen, and even go to Help Refugee ...more
Ellie Labbett
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Words are not enough to describe how affecting this story was for me. I am utterly overwhelmed by Davies and Cobb’s destructive depiction of the arrival of war. Told from the perspective of a child who loses everything and everyone. War takes it all, along with a part of herself that will never be regained. This happens on an ordinary day and could have happened anywhere- life is so fragile and easily torn apart. There is a devastatingly powerful partnership between words and illustrations in th ...more
Goodness me this poetic picture book is so moving. It is dark, as it should be, but ultimately tells an uplifting and hopeful message.

War has struck. A little girl is no longer welcome at school. She is the same as all the other little boys and girls inside, but the teacher will not let her in. There is no chair for her to sit on. She is not the first, or last, little girl for this to happen to. But she should be, and she could be, if more people take the time to read stories, poems, or message
Christina Reid
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book should be in every classroom! It does such a good job of introducing children to issues they may be hearing about in the media and humanise the individuals who are suffering from the effects of war, rather than lump them all together under the label of 'the refugee crisis'. It is based on a poem, originally written by the author in response to hearing of refugee children being turned away from schools because there were no seats for them in the already-full classrooms.
People don't ask
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it

Such a powerful picture book.


This book tells the story of a small girl who lives quite happily with her family until the day the war comes. Then her life is turned upside down. Her classroom is destroyed and her town is turned into rubble. She has nothing left, no family, no home and she begins the treacherous journey to find somewhere safe to stay. She crosses over roads, fields and mountains and travels in trucks, buses and a boat that almost sinks until she reac
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
War--drawn here as a gritty black page-engulfing cloud--takes a little girl's home, school, and family. She runs, walks, buses, and rafts to a strange land where there is no war. She tries to go to school, but the teacher turns her away ostensibly because there is no chair for her [a reference to the US reducing its refugee limit to 50,000 and the UK turning away 3000 refugee children in 2016, one of which was reportedly due to the lack of a chair]. And that's when the little girl understands: " ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Children's Stories About War & Refugees
British children's author and poet Nicola Davies turns to the difficult subjects of war and refugees in this powerful picture-book, which takes as its text the poem on the subject that Davies first published in The Guardian. Describing the life of a young girl, and how it is interrupted by war, the narrative follows its subject as she flees across land and sea, eventually coming to an unwelcoming place. Will she ever find a home again - will she ever live somewhere that war doesn't permeate life ...more
Ushnav Shroff
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sweet and painful, Nicola Davies' prose dances all night long with Rebecca Cobb's illustrations in this graphic book that was originally a poem. The ending, while hopeful, only presents a stark picture of what kids and adults alike suffer when war tears apart holes in their lives.
Monica Williams
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolute killer. Keep the tissues nearby. So simple and so incredibly sad. If you could ever say there is a good book to introduce the concept of war and refugees to children it would be this one. Heartbreaking. Be sure to read the afterword.
Nick Swarbrick
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The protagonist’s expression, the symbolism of chairs, the role of education as providing stability... Gosh, this is a powerful little book, in which the children’s compassion provides both a resolution and a challenge. Simple, moving, cleverly told.
Edward Sullivan
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A poignant refugee story gracefully written with child-friendly illustrations.
Maria Martins
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The day war came is a moving story about a young refugee girl who has her life uprooted by war. This book is so interesting yet devastating to read because "war" transitions from literal to metaphorical. When the young girl arrives in England war becomes an emotion, a person, a personality trait. War becomes all-consuming and the only thing that the young girl can focus on.

The illustrations go from bright reds and yellows to blacks and greys symbolising the rubble, smoke and dirt. I also interpr
Alice Bennett
This was an extremely hard-hitting picture book about impact of war and violence upon people living in troubled countries. It’s child-like illustrations capture the image of a refugee child trying to make sense of why her world has been turned upside-down. The book would be excellent to teach children about the very current refugee crisis happening in countries such as Syria.

The language is simple and yet, so effective because it’s told from the perspective of a confused young child. This will
Raven Black
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a five not because it is the best book ever or I'm "OMG FAV of all time" But because it is different. The subject has been done before (refugee children, how they struggle, etc) but this is not preachy, "in your face" or about one group of people. You can assume Syrian due to the illustrations, but it really could be anytime or any place. And it showing it in a mature way from the eyes of a child. At the end, there is a comment about refugees today and what countries are and are not doin ...more
This book is absolutely gorgeous and the story is amazingly powerful. It would not make a good group read aloud for the typical picture book crowd as they are too young to appreciate or understand it (preK to about 1st grade). However, this would make a great read aloud to an older group of kids or to adults to spark a discussion on refugees, immigration, inclusion, diversity, etc. It could also be used with a particularly precocious younger child in a one-on-one setting with an adult who has lo ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war, cybils, picture-book
Bravo, Nicola Davies, for taking on a difficult subject and making it accessible to children. Here in America we are far from war, but it is not so in many places in other parts of the world. What must it be like to go to school, studying tadpoles and drawing birds, and suddenly find yourself alone amid the rubble that was once your home? That's the story Davies shares, and it's a worthy story, gently told despite its horrifying subject matter, a story that needs to be shared with our insulated ...more
Sobering poem/story about children refugees.
Maggi Rohde
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
No punches pulled here. This is the impact war has on small children all over the world.
Stephen Connor
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A stunning picture book that lays bare the destruction of war, not just of a home, a building, a town, but of a life.

The story shows a child's normal school day being destroyed by war, which then follows her as she has to escape her home, her town and her country. She eventually finds herself in a foreign land, where she is generally shown no love, trust or compassion. This is addressed at the end.

Through my own ignorance, I hadn't heard of the 3000 Chairs campaign, started in revolt against the
Maggie Hesseling
Gut-wrenching and hopeful, this strong and beautifully illustrated book really puts you in the world of a child who has been displaced by war. Especially with the way that our world is changing so fast due to conflict, this picture book really does help open eyes. There are a multitude of people who I would confront with this picture book, but equally, give to those who think that there is no hope.

Is easy to see these events as those that happen to other people. But it is with books such as the
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loss, war, refugee
I think this book is the hardest book I've read for a long long time, told by a child it details how quickly war can enter your life and the destruction it continues to bring with it.
This book started as a poem by Davies and was published on the Guardian's newspaper website before being turned into a picture book. Visit to learn more about their work and how you can help support refugees and children across the world.
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this, in that aching joy and sorrow way that comes with all my favorite picture books. The prose was sparse but beautiful, and the illustrations were both lovely and haunting. This would be a good book to read with a child to inspire discussion about war, safety, and kindness. I already need to read it again.
Having been distraught of the UK government's rejection of granting sanctuary to 3000 Syrian child refugees, Davies was compelled to stop all her work and write a poem as a response. The poem meshes together a many stories of the plight of refugees in that year (there were many devastating stories that I think will always haunt me) including one of a child refugee who had been refused a space at school because they could/would not provide a chair for them to sit on.

The poem itself was published
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