How to Befriend a Butterfly 06/08/20
Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein
Publisher: Rock the Boat
Ali Fadhil likes comics, watching American shows on television, and playing football with his friends. He doesn't like Saddam Hussein, noisy bombs, or having to stay in his family's safe room at night.
Ali lives in Iraq in 1991, and he's facing a wartime existence after President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. From food shortages to destroyed buildings, everything is changing – and that's even before his father, a dentist, is forced to go away to work as a medic.
Based on co-author Ali Fadhil's real experiences, Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein skilfully portrays war from a child's perspective, mixing relatable obsessions with comics and video games and battles with bullies with larger concerns.
Simply written in a stark style, the book makes it easy for readers to imagine the fear, anxiety and frustration of living through war and has something to say to both children and adults. In a world where it can be easy to see the big picture but harder to recognise the impact at a human level, it feels like an important read.
However, be warned that some infrequent depictions of violence in the book may trouble some youngsters.