The Three Lucys

By School Library Journal

Charara creates a tale based on his Lebanese family’s experiences during the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel. Without shying away from the terror the family felt and the destruction they witnessed, the author has crafted a war story writ small for young readers. Luli, a happy young boy, has three cats—Lucy the Fat, Lucy the Skinny, and Lucy Lucy. He leaves them behind for what is meant to be a quick weekend with relatives in the city but turns into weeks of hiding and worry as the country is racked by air raids. After more than a month, a cease-fire is declared and the family is able to return home and search for the cats. Lucy the Fat and Lucy the Skinny eventually appear—but no Lucy Lucy. Luli continues to search and hope for the feline to appear over the next few weeks but finally accepts that she is really gone. As Luli processes his grief, the missing animal becomes a comforting memory and a symbol of the peace he hopes for in the world. The complicated emotions of the family are highlighted in the sweeping watercolor illustrations, which add depth while avoiding scary imagery. On a particularly powerful spread, Luli and his family are driving home when the bombing starts, and the peaceful moonlit night changes to a scene where only the family’s faces are shown, bathed in orange light as they stare out of the car in fear. VERDICT This book provides appropriate context for difficult topics, making it a good choice to spark discussion in libraries.