Rebecca Cobb
The Day War Came

Walker Books (4+)

9781406376326 (hardback)

When the government refused to allow 3000 child refugees to enter the UK 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 movingly illustrated book.

On an ordinary day a girl’s life is thrown upside down when war comes. Fleeing a town in rubble and forced to become a refugee, she begins a long and difficult journey alone. When she finally reaches safety there is no warm welcome awaiting her. Instead she finds coldness and mistrust. Until another child offers her something small, but very, very precious.

This is an intense but valuable lesson in kindness. The distinctive, childlike style of illustration adds to the emotional impact and gives the sense that it truly is a child’s story told to us direct. Recurring images are used to emphasise the similaries between her life before the war and once at her destination, whilst variations in layouts capture a sense of movement. Incredibly emotive and necessary, this is a book that will work on a different levels for different readers.


Rebecca Cobb graduated from Falmouth College of Arts in 2004. She has collaborated with the Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson on picture books including The Paper Dolls, Orange Prize-winner Helen Dunmore on books including The Lonely Sea Dragon and popular film-maker Richard Curtis on Christmas titles including The Empty Stocking. Rebecca was the winner of the 2013 Waterstones Prize and has twice been shortlisted for the prestigious Kate Greenaway Award.

Back to The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal Shortlist for 2019