I picked this up at ALA and read it then before passing it on to other reviewers. I ended up getting another digital copy and read it a second time before writing this review. I'm a big proponent of introducing American kids to what life is like around the world and now regret giving away my ARC of this title. I'll be buying it as I'm planning on including this in a World History/ Social Justice Homeschool Unit that we'll start either this Summer of next Fall. Anyhow, on with the review:
This story is quite the page-turner. It reads like a novel but, due to the fact that it is a true story, there isn't really any climax in the plot. It's 1991 and Ali and his family live in Iraq and throughout the story, we see the First Gulf War through their eyes. At first, they treat the bombings as a sort of game. The family goes down into their shelter and plays Monopoly and has picnics. As time goes on Ali's father gets called into service and food and other supplies run out forcing the family to receive rations from Saddam's army. Eventually, even his comic collection is used as a firestarter so that the family can cook.
Almost this entire story is suitable for middle grade readers with the exception of one scene that describes a mass execution that may be too much for younger readers.
Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story By Jennifer Roy and Ali Fadhil