The War in Kosovo
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This issue’s cover is from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Monkey Puzzle. Written in rhyme, this agreeable story has butterfly helping little monkey to find his mum. Scheffler’s distinctive, entertaining and strongly characterised illustrations make good use of the page as little monkey meets lots of jungle inhabitants before being reunited with his mum. Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Books for their help in producing this July cover.
This recent addition to the 'New Perspectives' series on controversial issues in contemporary history maintains the high standards of its predecessors. A grim and labyrinthine complex of events is sorted into historical strands, the presentation of which is supported by authoritative sources and by more debatable eye-witness accounts. The war between Serbia and NATO in 1999 is presented as the culmination of the latest and perhaps most atrocious phase of Serbian racism against the Albanian majority in Kosovo, a campaign dating back to 1913 when Serbia won Kosovo from the Ottoman Empire. But Ross' account provides more extensive background, showing how such racism is a relatively recent sympton of an age-old and continent-wide envy for Kosovo's mineral wealth and strategic potential. The horrors of the conflict are not glossed over, though NATO's motives and 'errors', such as the bombing of a convoy and of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, might have been subjected to a less tolerant scrutiny. As with earlier titles, the book opens with agripping account of a specific event. Context is then provided by a clear, accessible and uncondescending text, accompanied by maps and by historical and contemporary photographs, though readers are spared the worst of the images emerging from recent investigations of Serbian war crimes. Highly recommended for critical reading at key stages 3 and 4.