Noor and Bobby by French-Lebanese author Praline Gay-Para, translated by Alyson Waters, and illustrated by French artist Lauranne Quentric
This early readers’ book was written (originally in French) and illustrated in 2019, long before the invasion of Ukraine, and yet all I can think about is the Ukrainian children facing the same challenges as Noor.
This unnamed locale is filled with rubble and people are fleeing war. Noor is a young boy who watches his neighbor walk her dog up and down the stairs every day. However, when the woman finally escapes in a taxi, she leaves her dog, Bobby, behind, and the puppy runs chasing after the vehicle that has left him.
However, the abandoned puppy is not alone, and Noor chases after him, across the city, finding several wounded or distressed animals on his way—animals he is ultimately able to free or help: a trapped bird, a brood of kittens, and their momma. Finally, Noor finds Bobby in a sheltered space and brings him back home.
A vacant, war-torn city with smashed rubble everywhere and few adults walking about may be an unlikely setting for a children’s book, but Noor’s act of kindness fills us with hope. It’s a gentle way of pointing out just two simple aspects of war: abandoned pets and the charitable acts that prove our humanity to us.
Imprint: Yonder: Restless Books for Young Kids