I See the Sun in Afghanistan by Dedie King, illustrated by Judith Inglese
Looking for an ideal book to use with children about Afghanistan? See Afghanistan and its culture through the eyes of a young girl in this book. Follow her through one day from waking when it is still dark to fetch water. Listen to the sounds she hears, see the chores she does, visit her school, and see how her family is impacted by the war and takes in extended family members. Told in the first person, this book invites readers to see themselves as part of this country with its strong traditions and culture.
Using the device of a first person story told by a child, this book works quite well. It explains many of the small things about life in Afghanistan, leaving the larger issues in the background. While war is definitely a part of the story, this book does not take sides or express political opinions. Rather, this is a book about everyday life and about the impacts of war on one family. The tone is quiet and evocative, using sensory information to create the setting.
Inglese’s illustrations are a mix of painting and collage. This works particularly well with the textiles, allowing the fabrics to really splash. The collages also include occasional photographs which also pop against the browns of the landscape.
I do have two issues with the book. One is the whiteness of the skin of the characters, though this seems more of a stylistic choice than a statement of any kind. It is used in other books in the I See the Sun series. The other is that religion has been removed from the book, which is an odd choice for a book about a culture.
This look at the culture of modern Afghanistan is in picture book form, but will work best for slightly older children. With the dearth of books on this subject for young readers, this would make a good addition to any library collection. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from library copy.