Friday 8 June 2018

The Day War Came

A powerful and necessary picture book – the journey of a child forced to become a refugee when war destroys everything she has ever known.
Imagine if, on an ordinary day, war came. Imagine it turned your town to rubble. Imagine going on a long and difficult journey – all alone. Imagine finding no welcome at the end of it. Then imagine a child who gives you something small but very, very precious... When the government refused to allow 3000 child refugees to enter this country in 2016, Nicola Davies was so angry she wrote a poem. It started a campaign for which artists contributed drawings of chairs, symbolising a seat in a classroom, education, kindness, the hope of a future. The poem has become this book, movingly illustrated by Rebecca Cobb, which should prove a powerful aid for explaining the ongoing refugee crisis to younger readers. 
£1 from every copy sold goes to the charity Help Refugees – find out more about their wonderful work at their website,

Behind the scenes with Rebecca Cobb

We’re excited to welcome Rebecca Cobb to the Picture Book Party blog for a behind-the-scenes look at The Day War Came

Nicola Davies wrote The Day War Came when in 2016 the UK government voted against giving sanctuary to 3000 lone child refugees and after she had heard a story about a little girl refugee being turned away from a school because she was told there was no chair for her. Nicola started the #3000chairs campaign with the illustrators Jackie Morris and Petr Horáček, drawing chairs as symbols of solidarity with all those children who were completely alone and with nowhere to go.

My work for The Day War Came all began with a drawing of a chair for this campaign, so it felt appropriate to use images of chairs throughout the book.

The chair is a very meaningful symbol and is central to Nicola’s poignant, beautiful poem because the little girl is told that not having a chair is the reason she is refused entry to the school. It is a very simple everyday object but it somehow represents the things that children should be able to expect from life - a secure, safe home environment and access to an education.

At the beginning of the book, the little girl sits on a chair at home with her family to eat breakfast and then she goes to school and sits on a chair in her classroom to learn about volcanoes and draw birds.

But then, when the war explodes across the page, the chairs are thrown over and she has to flee, leaving them behind.

I love Nicola’s positive message of hope at the end of the book, where a boy brings the girl a chair and then we see that all his friends have brought chairs too. I think it is often true in life that children are the ones who remind us how to be kind and look after each other.

If you’d like to join in with #3000chairs too, then here is my guide on how to draw a chair:

You can pick up a copy of The Day War Came at your local bookshop and you can find The Day War Came teacher's notes here.