Nour’s Secret Library by Wafa’ Tarnowska, illustrated by Vali Mintzi

Published by Barefoot Books

Summary: Nour and Damir are cousins living in Syria with big plans to start a secret society for themselves and their friends.  Those plans are destroyed when the war moves to their city and they have to hide in a basement.  During lulls in the fighting, Damir goes out on his bike to look for food and begins to rescue books that he finds in the rubble.  The kids find an empty basement in a mostly-abandoned building and set up a library there.  With the help of neighbors, they build shelves and move their books into the basement.  Before long, people are coming from all over the city to borrow books.  Reading and books provide a respite for people as they endure the long war.  Includes a glossary, information about Syria, a list of 8 famous libraries in the Middle East, information about the real secret library, and notes from the author and illustrator.  32 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  An inspiring story based on real events that celebrates reading, books, and innovative kids who found a way to bring joy to their war-torn city.

Cons:  It wasn’t exactly clear which parts of the book were fact and which were fiction.

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