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Although Zana, an eleven-year-old Albanian girl, experiences the turmoil and violence of the 1999 conflict in her native Kosovo, she remembers her father's admonition to not let her heart become filled with hate.
1. “Generosity is the first step toward peace” is a Buddhist saying that appears at the beginning of the book. Explain how this saying relates to the novel. How is it good advice for national and world citizens and leaders today?
2. Zana asks, “How was it that foreigners could come take pictures of us when we were dead, but couldn’t come to help us stay alive?” (p. 27) Discuss how Zana’s question displays anger and bitterness toward foreign journalists. Ask the group to debate why journalists feel it necessary to focus on such horrific devastation to human lives.
3. Papa says, “Listen, Zana, don’t let them [the Serbs] fill your heart with hate. Whatever happens. Promise me that. Will you?” (p. 13) Discuss moments in the novel when Zana cannot control her hatred toward the Serbs. How does hatred between the Albanians and the Serbs affect Zana’s friendship with Lena Goran?
4. Zana learns to control her anger at the end of the novel when she is reunited with Lena. Ilir is still angry and along with his uncle, he threatens the Goran family. Discuss how Zena helps the Gorans. How does Zana learn that friendship transcends all negative emotions? What does Dr. Rob teach Zana about friendship and dealing with anger?
5. Zana says, “Calling Albanians terrorists gave them the right to kill us anytime they wanted to.” (p. 16) Define terrorism. How might the Serbs be labeled terrorists? Describe how Zana and her family feel terrorized throughout the novel. How does terror play a role in Lena’s family leaving Kosovo?
6. When a Serbian policeman is shot, Zana says, “All Albanians wouldsuffer for the actions of one. That was how it was.” (p. 15) How does Zana’s comment relate to the treatment of Muslims in the United States after the events of September 11, 2001? Explain the term profiling. Ask students to discuss the injustice of profiling.
For more activities on Images of War, see these titles: For Freedom by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Lord of the Nutcracker by Iain Lawrence, Girl of Kosovo by Alice Mead, Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley with Ron Powers adapted for young people by Michael French, The Gadget by Paul Zindel, and Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian.
Prepared by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, SC.