A Sky-Blue Bench

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A Sky-Blue Bench

By Bahram Rahman Peggy Collins
Illustrated by Peggy Collins
Picture Book for Ages 5–8
ISBN: 978-1-77278-222-6
List Price: $22.95 CAD / $18.95 USD
Hardcover with dust jacket
Trim size: 9 x 10 inches / 22.86 x 25.4 cm
Pages: 32

Publication Date: November 30, 2021

Distributed in the US by Ingram Publisher Services

Rights Available: World ex. North America; French for North America

It’s Afghan schoolgirl Aria’s first day back at school since her accident. She’s excited, but she’s also worried about sitting on the hard floor all day with her new prosthetic “helper-leg.”

Just as Aria feared, sitting on the floor is so uncomfortable that she can’t think about learning at all. She knows that before the war changed many things in Afghanistan, schools like hers had benches for students to sit at. If she had a bench, her leg would not hurt so much. The answer is obvious: she will gather materials, talk to Kaka Najar, the carpenter in the old city, and learn to build a bench for herself.

In A Sky-Blue BenchBahram Rahman, author of The Library Bus, returns again to the setting of his homeland, Afghanistan, to reveal the resilience and resolve of young children—especially young girls—who face barriers to education. Illustrator Peggy Collins imbues Aria with an infectious spunkiness and grit that make her relatable even to readers with a very different school experience. An author’s note gently introduces an age-appropriate discussion of landmines and their impact on the lives of children in many nations, especially Afghanistan, which has the highest concentration of landmines of any country in the world.

Awards and Honours:
2022 ALA Schneider Family Book Award Honor Book Winner
2023 Indiana Young Hoosier Award Nominee
2022 Middle East Book Award Honor Book
2023 OLA Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award Nominee
2023 Rise: A Feminist Book Project Honor Book
2021 The New York TimesWhat to Read: Four Children’s Books” selection
2021 Kirkus ReviewsBest Books of 2021 Celebrating Community” selection
2021 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist
2021 Foreword Reviews Book of The Day (Nov 3rd)
2021 Harvard Book Store “New This Week: Kids & Young Adult” selection
2023 IBBY Canada “IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities” selection
2021 Quill & Quire2021 Best of Fall guide: Kids’ books” selection
2022 49th Shelf Top Grade Winter List Selection
2021 49th Shelf “Books for Back to School” selection
2022 49th ShelfBooks that Inspire Students to Overcome Adversity” Selection
2022 CCBC Spring Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection

“A timely, eye-opening portrait of resilience, community, and hope.”—Kirkus Reviews ★ Starred Review

“This is a touching and timely book that portrays the hardships many children in Afghanistan and other war-torn countries face. The author illustrates this beautifully and adds an informative and heartfelt “Author’s Note” that’ll leave a notable impression on young readers.”—Seattle Book Review ★ Starred Review

“Together with her mother and brother, Aria decides to build a bench herself, painting it skyblue: the color of “courage, peace and wisdom.”—Foreword Reviews

“[A] heartwarming story about a resilient young girl who faces a barrier to her education.”—Quill & Quire

“Illustrator Peggy Collins imbues Aria with an infectious spunkiness and grit that make her relatable even to readers with a very different school experience. An author’s note gently introduces an age-appropriate discussion of landmines and their impact on the lives of children in many nations, especially Afghanistan…”—CBC Books

“[A] poignant story recognizing the resilience and determination of young children, particularly girls, living in war-torn countries…. Aria’s courage, in the face of adversity, will resonate with children, no matter what their background, as will the significance of the colour blue, a symbol of hope.”—Canadian Children’s Book News

“How beautiful and heart-breaking to read this lovely picture book about a young girl…who finds a way to be comfortable at school by building her own bench. The ingenuity and determination of Afghani women and girls is explored…”—Youth Services Book Review

“A Sky-Blue Bench shares a valuable lesson of resilience and that children, specifically girls, can do anything that they put their minds to.”—Metroland Toronto

“[A] beautiful story of resilience and determination.”—My Journal-Courier

“The narrative was powerful and impactful and drew specifically on some experiences the author had growing up in Afghanistan. There is an authors note with terms that I think will be helpful to parents/caregivers if they read this will children.”—Bookishrealm, Goodreads

“[An] inspiring story of resilience, determination, and grit.”—Little Bookworm Club

“Peggy Collins fills her spreads…with digital artwork that reveals the emotions felt, the support of community, and the determination of a child to make a difference for herself and others…”—Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“Beautiful story, beautiful lessons and beautiful illustrations…”—Book Time

“I genuinely enjoyed the illustrations and little Aria finding a way to make a bench so she could sit comfortably at school with her prosthetic leg.”—Kirin, Goodreads

“I love her determination and ingenuity. The illustrations are colorful, and the text is easy for elementary students to read and understand.”—Israa, Goodreads

“Readers will see the importance of accessible spaces for everyone….The story is an example of strength and self-advocating.”—Storytime with Stephanie

A Sky-Blue Bench may be a story from Afghanistan but its lessons about self-reliance and resourcefulness will speak to all children, especially those facing their own challenges, and encourage them to find solutions.”—CanLit for Little Canadians

“[T]he challenges that Aria faces as an amputee are shown honestly, her emotions and struggles depicted realistically but not in a way that showed her as helpless…  She had agency and voice. More of this representation please.”—@alissareadsabook

“A heartbreaking and heartwarming story all at once.” The International Educator

“I love books where kids take charge…I loved the message of perseverance and hope.”—Mrs. Book Dragon

“This book just clutched at my heart…Based partially on the experiences of the author, it inspires hope in the reader that children can come up with creative solutions, even when adults might not see any… A beautiful book and one that is definitely empowering and inspiring for all readers!”—@muslimmommyblog

“It’s crucial to have books like [A Sky-Blue Bench] on every bookshelf…The message that girls can do it all was loud and proud in this beautiful story… The illustrations are also vibrant and easily show Aria’s determination, hope and resilience.”—@raisingreaderstobecomeleaders

“Rahman has written a compelling narrative, accessible to children, which tackles difficult concepts…His writing is a gift to parents and educators…I appreciate Aria’s determination, creativity, and grit as she overcomes the obstacles in her path. She is a role model for young girls.”—@kidsreadtheworld

“There is a lot of joy to be found in this book….Together, Rahman and Collins take a heavy subject and not only make it age appropriate for the cohort, but weave a story that will be requested again and again.”—Mr. Alex’s Bookshelf