A War Diary
Clarion Books (HarperCollins), 2023. 128 pages.
Review written September 15, 2023, from a library book.
Don Brown has written several graphic novels about several awful historical events. I've reviewed The Great American Dust Bowl and Drowned City about Hurricane Katrina. I've read another he wrote about 9/11. When I picked up this one, I was shocked to realize it had been long enough ago for him to write and publish a graphic novel about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Specifically, this book is about the 83-day siege of the Ukrainian City of Mariupol that began February 24, 2022.
This graphic novel describes what it was like for civilians in a city under siege, how they fought back, how some escaped, and how some survived.
It's not a happy story by any means. Mariupol is still under Russian occupation today.
At the back, there are three pages of source notes and five pages of Selected Bibliography. As in his other books, Don Brown has done the research to let teens know what it was like to live through this disaster. So although this is not a happy story, it is a true story and an important story. The graphic novel format makes the story accessible to everyone, including teens and older kids. I hadn't realized how little I knew about it until I read this book.
The last page of the main text has a background of smoke telling us this:
The city of Mariupol is ruined. Ukrainian officials estimate that the brutal 83-day siege killed 20,000 civilians and destroyed 90 percent of the city. The World Health Organization warns it could now face outbreaks of cholera. Remaining residents are forced to work for the Russians in exchange for food while cats and dogs feast on corpses.
This book shines light on an ongoing atrocity. I recommend reading this book not for pleasure, but for awareness.