ACHUKA Book of the Day 28 Oct 2021
Recognised in the OPERA PRIMA category in the BolognaRagazzi Award 2020
It is the summer of 1939 in Warsaw, Poland and Michal is an eight-year-old boy just finishing his school year. In order to improve his handwriting, Michal’s teacher gives him a simple assignment: keep a journal, writing one sentence a day.
Eighty years later, Michal’s diary has been gorgeously illustrated with beautifully atmospheric paintings. Eloquent in its simplicity, the journal is a remarkable artefact that captures the innocence of childhood and the trauma of war. The journal starts out with a typical boy’s observations:
“July 15: I went to a stream with my brother and teacher.”
“July 23: I found a caterpillar.”
However over the course of weeks, menacing details emerge.
“July 27: A plane was circling over Anin.”
“September 1: The war has begun.”
“September 3: I hid from planes.”
“September 14: Warsaw is bravely defending itself.”
These haunting entries are interspersed with visits from relatives, a soccer game, a trip to a park, an ice cream cone.
Photographs of pages from Michal’s diary enhance the poignancy of this simple record of an ordinary holiday interrupted by war—a life changed forever by an extraordinary moment in history.
Follow the illustrator, AKA as Helena Stiasny (painter and photographer), on Instagram:
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