Poppies of Iraq

FINDAKLY, Brigitte & . tr. from French by Helge Dascher. illus. by Brigitte Findakly & Lewis Trondheim. 120p. chron. photos. Drawn & Quarterly. Sept. 2017. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781770462939.
RedReviewStarGr 8 Up—This absorbing graphic memoir offers an insider's view of the rapid cultural changes that beset Iraq in the latter half of the 20th century. As in Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis and Raina Telgemeier's Smile, the author of this work is both cocreator and protagonist. Brigitte is an energetic guide through a series of childhood experiences, at once universal and distinctly her own. Short vignettes about her family, school, and local customs are alternately bittersweet, funny, and affecting as a series of military and political coups impact her family's life in Iraq. Vivid illustrations contrast with black-and-white family photos, bringing to life actual individuals. An opening scene finds young Brigitte playing amid ancient ruins at an archaeological site, and the work ends with a time line tracing the history of the region, from ancient Mesopotamia to present day. This bookending underscores the variety of power structures that have come and gone, demonstrating how Findakly's family's experiences are part of an ongoing historical narrative.
VERDICT A moving, thought-provoking title for all collections.

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