Project Description

Cover: Flowers for Sarajevo
Discussion Guide
Author Q&A
Illustrator Q&A
Song Sample

Flowers for Sarajevo

by John McCutcheon
illustrated by Kristy Caldwell

Young Drasko is happy working with his father in the Sarajevo market. Then war encroaches. Drasko must run the family flower stand alone.

One morning, the bakery is bombed and twenty-two people are killed. The next day, a cellist walks to the bombsite and plays the most heartbreaking music Drasko can imagine. The cellist returns for twenty-two days, one day for each victim of the bombing. Inspired by the musician’s response, Drasko finds a way to help make Sarajevo beautiful again.

Based on real events of the Bosnian War, award-winning songwriter and storyteller John McCutcheon tells the uplifting story of the power of beauty in the face of violence and suffering. The story comes to life with the included CD in which cellist Vedran Smailović accompanies McCutcheon and performs the melody that he played in 1992 to honor those who died in the Sarajevo mortar blast.

Format: Hardcover & CD
Price: $19.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-943-8
Publication Date: 4/1/2017
Page Count: 32
Size: 10-3/8″ x 9-3/8″
Age Range: 7 – 10
Language: English
Format: CD
Price: $6.95
ISBN: 978-1-68263-000-6
Publication Date: 4/1/2017
Purchase this Digital Audiobook from the following vendors:


F&P: GRL W, Gr 6, Genre HF
Lexile: 570L
Themes: Beauty, Bosnian War, Community, Healing, Music, Peace
BISAC 1: JUV016040 JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / Europe
BISAC 2: JUV016080 JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / Military & Wars
BISAC 3: JUV031040 JUVENILE FICTION / Performing Arts / Music


“Beauty will always find a way to rise from violence, but this is a reminder all readers need.” ―Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Text and illustrations work together to remind readers of the power of beauty in the face of human suffering…. A highly recommended book that highlights the capacity for empathy and humanity, even in a society faced with violence and war.” ―School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“[A] powerful story of a musical performance that defied the horror of combat.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Moving… A bittersweet account of the power of art in dark times.” ―Booklist

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“Thought-provoking…” ―The Horn Book Guide

“Folksinger John McCutcheon’s picture book Flowers for Sarajevo provides an insightful response, combining history, humanity and music in a memorable picture book that’s perfect for young elementary school students…. Kristy Caldwell’s illustrations add dimension to the story by imbuing the central action on each spread with color, leaving the rest of the scene in muted tones. She brings the busy marketplace to life, depicting the mortar explosion and its destruction without being gruesome.” ―BookPage



Parents’ Choice Gold Award ―Parents’ Choice Foundation, 2017

Best Children’s Books of the Year ―Bank Street College of Education, 2018

Cybils (Finalist, Fiction Picture Books) ―Cybils, 2017

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CCBC Choices (Historical People, Places, and Events) ―Cooperative Children’s Book Center, 2018

Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People ―National Council for the Social Studies/Children’s Book Council, 2018

Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List (Starred, Intermediate) ―Kansas National Education Association, 2018

Storytelling World Resource Awards (Stories for Pre-Adolescent Listeners) ―Storytelling World magazine, 2019

Delaware Diamonds Award (Nominee, Grades 3-5) ―Diamond State Reading Association, 2018-2019

Prairie Bloom Children’s Book Award (Nominee) ―South Dakota Library Association, South Dakota Reading Council, South Dakota State Library, South Dakota Elementary School Principals, 2019-2020


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Meet the Author

John McCutcheon is an accomplished instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter. He has received multiple Grammy nominations and numerous other awards, and regularly appears on National Public Radio. He lives in Georgia. You can visit his website here.

Meet the Illustrator

Kristy Caldwell received an MFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts. She lives in New York. You can visit her website here.