Not so long ago in a country far away lived an ordinary librarian who did something quite heroic. Alia ran the library in Basra, a city in Southern Iraq, and she loved her books dearly.
Two years ago, in advance of the American invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, Alia feared that looting and the fires of war would destroy her beloved books. So she started moving the collection to safety. Book by book, she brought them home where she kept them on windowsills, in cupboards and stacked on the floor. Sure enough, after many of the books had been removed; the Basra library burned.
Her story so caught the imagination or people here that two writers of children’s books set her story to paper in an effort to put a human face on the inhuman ravages of war.
Shaila Dewan, reporter for The New York Times
Jeanette Winter, children’s book author and illustrator. Her latest book is “The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq.”
Mark Alan Stamaty, political cartoonist and author of “Alia’s Mission”
Jane Cutler, children’s book author of “The Cello of Mr. O.”