Flowers for Sarajevo

by John McCutcheon

Other authorsKristy Caldwell (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2017


Checked out
Due 30 Jul 2020



Peachtree Publishing Company (2017), Edition: Rei/Com, 32 pages


In 1992, a young boy whose father is away at war discovers, from their flower stall, the power of beauty and kindness in the wake of the bombing of Sarajevo.

User reviews

LibraryThing member VeraGodley
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 whose father sold fresh flowers in Sarajevo. Father is away at war and Drasko continues to sell the flowers to support his family.

War hits. Destruction is close and personal. The bombing was terrible.

And then, the cellist steps from his doorway and sits down. He begins to play. Sadness but beauty and hope emanate from his piece. This continues day by day.

The story touched my heart and I thought to myself, "Why have I never heard this story before?" The story is both sad and beautiful as the darkness is parted and the brightness that is the human spirit shines forth.

The illustrations are poignant, yet suitable for a children's book. The colors are drab neutrals which denote the bland, unlovely world that was Bosnia in the 1990s. Small touches of bright color peek through in the beauty of the flowers.

Included in this publication is the true back story of Cellist Vedran Smailovic who was a cellist for the Sarajevo Opera, Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra RTV Sarajevo, and the National Theatre of Sarajevo. Also, the history of the embattled region that includes Sarajevo spanning more than a century. And the beautiful reading of the story by the author himself. The beautiful song is sung by John McCutcheon and played by Cellist Vedran Smailovic.

I highly recommend.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimen tary copy from Peachtree Publishing to facilitate a review. I was not compensated and opinions are my own, alone.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
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 cellist from the nearby symphony decided to hold a public performance in the bombed-out marketplace, returning every day for twenty-two days in order to honor those who had been slain...

Based upon the true story of the Cellist of Sarajevo, Vedran Smailović, who did indeed perform Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor multiple times during the siege of his city, Flowers for Sarajevo is told from a child's perspective, imagining these events as seen through the fictional Drasko's eyes. Author John McCutcheon, a singer/song-writer who has composed a well-known folk song about Smailović, with whom he is friends, spins a poignant tale here, one which addresses a terrible moment in history, and the greatness of the human spirit, in confronting that moment. The accompanying artwork by Kristy Caldwell has a layered look to it, with some people and objects appearing more vividly in the foreground, while others recede into the subtler background. This gives a sense of depth and motion to the illustrations here, making the story come alive in interesting ways. Recommended to anyone looking for children's stories about the Balkan War specifically, or about children caught up in war in general.
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LibraryThing member Sondosottallah
Inspired by true events, this picture book is beautiful yet chilling. It takes place in Sarajevo, which is present day capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A father and son who sell fresh flowers in their city's diverse marketplace are separated because of the war. Now that his father is fighting the war, Drasko has to run the flower stand all by himself. Tragedy hits when the bakery in the marketplace is bombed. The mood is different in the marketplace now, but one person brings the community back together, the cellist from the orchestra. He plays by the bombing site for 22 days (for the 22 people that died). His music is a sign of beauty in a time of hardship and tragedy. Therefore, Drasko is set out to do his part to make the city a little more beautiful- by selling flowers just like his dad.… (more)


Original language


Physical description

32 p.; 11 inches


1561459437 / 9781561459438


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