Tony O'Brien and Mike Sullivan followed their dreams and went to war-ravaged Afghanistan to talk to the children to learn about their hopes and dreams. For some of the little ones, the easiest way to get them to understand was to tell them about the story of Aladdin and his magic lamp and then ask "what their three wishes would be." Bibi Aisha, age 11, said she "would love to believe in a magic carpet" because instead of having to walk a full hour to schoo,l she "could fly there in five minutes." Some of the children like Bibi are still so very innocent, but other children they found like sixteen-year-old Faridah, combination carpet maker and schoolgirl, ponders her life and claims, "I am accustomed to wartime; that's all I know." That's all many of these children seemed to know.
Most of the children interviewed were from Kabul where "daily life for most of its people is about survival: finding work, food and shelter." Later they moved to the countryside to interview children. The children talk about what they do for work, how they survive, and what their hopes for the future entail. Nozoku, age 10 says that "I get sick and nervous, worrying about the attacks." Many of them nonchalantly talk about friends and relatives who have died in wartime circumstances, but oddly enough, many talk about wanting an education. These interviews are accompanied by stunning portraits of each child. Eight-year-old Tajalaa stands tall and fierce before the camera with his balled up fists, puffed out chest and a look of determination on his face. He someday wants sons of his own, but now he has to work.
This was a mesmerizing book. Once I started reading I couldn't stop. The faces of the children, for the most part, showed determination and hope for the future. I loved the way the authors took snippets of obviously lengthy interviews and captured the essence of whom these children were and wanted to be. The photography, needless to say, is stunning and captures the emotional bearing of each child, from the serious or sad to the giggly or determined. This would be a marvelous book to add to any collection, especially a classroom one!