Babel Books: Tomorrow

babel books Aug 15, 2018

It seems appropriate to be writing a review of Nadine Kaadan's wonderful story Tomorrow on the eve of the release of the English translation.

Written and published in Arabic in 2012, this beautiful picture book tells a sad tale of how the lives of children in Syria changed once the war started to ravage their home towns. Yazan is no longer able to go outside and play with his friends, and he is fed up of being stuck in the house with his parents who have got the news on the television turned up too loud.

His mother, who once painted pictures with him, now just sits glued to the screen. So Yazan takes matters into his own hands: he goes outside. What could possibly go wrong?

I first encountered this story at our Singing for Syrians fundraising event in February 2017 and felt very strongly that it needed to be published in English. Nadine's illustrations are incredibly moving. Through her use of colour and shape she shows how oppressive daily life has become for families, whilst retaining a child-centered imagining of the war itself so that we can read the story with our children and they will understand the seriousness of the situation without being overwhelmed.

Indeed, Nadine reads her story to children all over Europe, visiting refugee camps where children don't even remember what Syria used to be like before. For them, there is no before, as fleeing from the destruction and seeking refuge is all they have ever known. In this video Nadine explains why she wrote the story, and how her use of colour changed after the war began.

Tomorrow is a story about how together we can build a better world, especially if we can light the candle of hope in our children that things do not have to be as bleak as the political climate outside sometimes suggests. We still have art, hope and friendship to bring us together as communities, crossing borders and cultures and bringing us together as people.

If you would like to read Tomorrow in English, visit Lantana Publishing or your local bookshop. Let's keep talking to our children about the darker and more difficult issues and showing them how to keep the hope alive! Tomorrow is in their hands after all.