Zafir shivered, It was an icy morning in the city of Homs and the wind felt sharp enough to strip the skin from his body. Tetah, his grandmother, had said it might even snow. Zafir hoped it would, but he wished winter didn’t have to be this cold. Although he was wearing a scarf, long trousers and a sweater under his school blazer, he still had to sit on his hands to keep them from turning into icicles as he hunched on the front seat of the old yellow taxi.
‘Is it going to snow,’ Zafir asked Abu Moussa, the taxi driver who took him to school every day. There was no bus from Al Waer and after what had happened in Dubai, Mum didn’t want to own a car.
Zafir has moved with his parents from Dubai to Homs after the death of his maternal grandparents. While he used to like visiting his paternal grandmother, living in this small city is not as much fun as he thought it would be. On his way to school, he witnesses an act of violence, but no one else seems to want to admit that it happened. Zafir begins to discover that the unrest in Syria and is escalating into revolution. No one is immune to the troubles. His father is arrested, his mother is in danger. Everyone around him is affected and Zafir must develop his own resources to survive.
Zafir is a new title in the ‘Through My Eyes’ titles from Allen & Unwin. Each is the story of a conflict through the eyes of a child. Zafiris set in war-torn Syria. Zafir is a normal young teen for whom the normal interests of friend and skateboards, freedom and Facebook are disrupted by war. His parents are educated and tolerant but as the conflict worsens they too must decide how they will respond. Zafir discovers that there is much in his world that is not as it seems and now it is time for him also to decide on his responses. He has to learn who to trust, and how to stay close to his family and friends. He also discovers that no matter how he and others respond, war will affect them all. Recommended for upper primary readers.
Zafir: Through My Eyes, Prue Mason
Allen & Unwin 2015 ISBN: 9781743312544
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller