A Sky Blue Bench
It’s Afghan schoolgirl Aria’s first day back at school since her accident. She’s excited, but she’s also worried about sitting on the hard floor all day with her new prosthetic “helper-leg.”
Just as Aria feared, sitting on the floor is so uncomfortable that she can’t think about learning at all. She knows that before the war changed many things in Afghanistan, schools like hers had benches for students to sit at. If she had a bench, her leg would not hurt so much. The answer is obvious: she will gather materials, talk to Kaka Najar, the carpenter in the old city, and learn to build a bench for herself.
In A Sky-Blue Bench, Bahram Rahman, author of The Library Bus, returns again to the setting of his homeland, Afghanistan, to reveal the resilience and resolve of young children--especially young girls--who face barriers to education. Illustrator Peggy Collins imbues Aria with an infectious spunkiness and grit that make her relatable even to readers with a very different school experience. An author's note gently introduces an age-appropriate discussion of landmines and their impact on the lives of children in many nations, especially Afghanistan, which has the highest concentration of landmines of any country in the world.
Bahram Rahman was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and grew up during the civil war and the Taliban regime. He earned a medical degree at Kabul Medical University and a master's degree in public policy at the University of Erfurt, Germany, while also working as an activist in Afghanistan in the areas of gender equality and youth political participation. Bahram came to Canada as a refugee in 2012, and today he is a senior policy advisor at the Ministry of Health in Ontario. His first picture book, the New York Times-reviewed The Library Bus, documents the barriers to education experienced by girls in war-torn countries and their resilience and ingenuity in overcoming them.
Peggy Collins is a graphic designer and an award-winning children's book author-illustrator with more than 35 titles to her name, including Harley the Hero, Hungry for Math: Poems to Munch On, In the Snow, and In the Garden. Peggy teaches animation at Loyalist College as well as illustration and drawing at St. Lawrence College. She has also written and illustrated for animated apps teaching math, indigenous history, and education. Peggy lives in Newburgh, Ontario with her two children.
2022 ALA Schneider Family Book Award Honor Book Winner
★ “A timely, eye-opening portrait of resilience, community, and hope.”—Kirkus Reviews ★ Starred Review
★ “This is a touching and timely book that portrays the hardships many children in Afghanistan and other war-torn countries face. The author illustrates this beautifully and adds an informative and heartfelt “Author’s Note” that’ll leave a notable impression on young readers.”—Seattle Book Review ★ Starred Review
“Together with her mother and brother, Aria decides to build a bench herself, painting it skyblue: the color of “courage, peace and wisdom.”—Foreword Reviews
“[A] heartwarming story about a resilient young girl who faces a barrier to her education.”—Quill & Quire
“Illustrator Peggy Collins imbues Aria with an infectious spunkiness and grit that make her relatable even to readers with a very different school experience. An author’s note gently introduces an age-appropriate discussion of landmines and their impact on the lives of children in many nations, especially Afghanistan…”—CBC Books
“[A] poignant story recognizing the resilience and determination of young children, particularly girls, living in war-torn countries…. Aria’s courage, in the face of adversity, will resonate with children, no matter what their background, as will the significance of the colour blue, a symbol of hope.”—Canadian Children’s Book News
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