Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Wartime Sarajevo

AR Level: 4.3

Summary:  From September 1991 through October 1993, young Zlata Filipovic kept a diary. When she began it, she was 11 years old, concerned mostly with friends, school, piano lessons, MTV, and Madonna. As the diary ends, she has become used to constant bombing and snipers; severe shortages of food, water, and gas; and the end of a privileged adolescence in her native Sarajevo. Zlata has been described as the new Anne Frank. While the circumstances are somewhat similar, and Zlata is intelligent and observant, this diary lacks the compelling style and mature preceptions that gave Anne Frank’s account such universality. The entire situation in the former Yugoslavia, however, is of such currency and concern that any first-person account, especially one such as this that speaks so directly to adolescents, is important and necessary. While not great literature, the narrative provides a vivid description of the ravages of war and its effect upon one young woman, and, as such, is valuable for today’s YAs.
Susan H. Woodcock, King’s Park Library, Burke, VA

Websites:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zlata%27s_Diary

The two links listed below are audio.  You can listen to the author tell her story at the time the book was published and then 15 years later when she has worked to collect the story of so many other children who have survived conflict.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1107529

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7117638

14 thoughts on “Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Wartime Sarajevo

  1. Nur Farah Meor
    Block 5
    Blue
    Zlata’s Diary: A Child Life In Wartime Sarajevo

    There were lots of history in this book but I can only found a couple of them that I am happy to share with you. The first thing I learn is that that the war started in 1992 where she (Zlata, the person who wrote in her diary about the war) stated that the Serbian artillery positions were set up on the hill directly above her house and the whole family had to move their possessions to the front room, which was protected by sand bags. Secondly, reading through this book she wrote so many times that “I am all alone here” because all her friends and relatives tried desperately to flee before it was too late. In 1993, she stopped writing and submitted her diaries to a teacher, who had them published by a small press in Sarajevo with the help of the International Centre for Peace. Meanwhile, the death toll was thought to be about 250,000 people. However, on December 23, 1993, Zlata and her parents were transported from their home in the Skenderija district of old Sarajevo, in 2 vehicles of the French UNPROPOR contingent and taken through government and Serb checkpoints at the airport. A few hours after being stuck, they left safely for the Paris on a UN/United Nation plane. But the war officially ended in 1995. So that means 2005 marked the tenth anniversary since the war officially ended in Bosnia.

    After searching for additional information, I found a few detailed explanations in these websites:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnian_War
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/1066981.stm

    One of the information that I want to add is that the war occurred between March 1992 till November 1995. Also, as tension rose, conflict broke out between Muslims and Croats. Much of the town, Mostar, was destroyed including its highest point, the Old Bridge. The bridge had graced the city since it was built by the Ottomans in the 16th century and was a symbol of Bosnia’s cultural diversity. The conflict was extremely complex. Muslims and Serbs formed the alliance against Croats in Herzegovina; rival of the Muslim forces each other in northeast Bosnia, Croats and Serbs fight against Muslims in central Bosnia.

    After reading this book, I could already imagine how I would be like if I was in her place. The author’s words are so amazing and detailed even though it is in a diary formed. It also makes me think that how much she just wants to be educated even though she is in a war situation. This is just making me sad by thinking how parents now days are spending money for their child’s education and some children doesn’t even value education; they think that I want to be that so I don’t have to do this. By the way, I would recommend this book to people who like diaries and I would not recommend this book to a reader that is easily bored with a book. That is because sometimes the diary is about sad news, then good news, and then sad news again and so on. Putting that aside, I would give this book 5out of 5 because it is a very good diary entry that reflects the live of some people. In another part of the world and the opposite way of life. Warning- this book has a sad story but happy beginning.

  2. Review:
    Zlata’s Diary explains the depressing life story of an every-day 11 year old girl living during the Bosnian conflict in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. Zlata explains her sincere feelings through a diary in which she calls her Mimmy. Many catastrophic events occur in Zlata’s life such as the death of her friends, her city being shelled and having to live in her neighbor’s cellar.
    I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars. Although this is a well described, sad story, I feel that the book did not have much of a beginning, middle and end. It just continually explained her thoughts and feelings. I think that many of the events Zlata explained were not very exciting for the readers due to the fact that it was written as a diary. She did not get very much in depth in the things she personally experienced during the war, but primarily explained what happened to the people around her. I realize this is someone’s diary, however it is hard to learn history or get facts about the Bosnian war because of the way it was written. If you do not like much thrill in the books you read, then this is the book for you!

    History:
    This book takes place between the years of 1991 and 1993, when the Bosnian war occurred. It explains how the capital city of Bosnia, Sarajevo was continually being shelled due to the Serbian shooting points that were set up all around the country. Many families fled Bosnia due to lack of safety and supplies. Others, like Zlata’s family, decided not to leave, as they didn’t believe that their country would be destroyed. The people that continued to live in Bosnia faced the challenges of not having electricity, running water or much food due to the war. Kids were not allowed to go to school because the Serbs were prepared to fire at them. In order to help make peace in Bosnia, UNPROFOR, a troop from the United Nations, came to assist the families by transporting them to safer countries for them to live.

    Additional Information:
    The Bosnian war officially began on April 1, 1992 and ended December 14, 1995. During this war, a LOT of violence took place. In total, about 97,207 people were killed. 66% of those were Bosnians, 25% were Serbs and 8% were Croats. It was reported that 90% of the crimes that occurred during this war were committed by Serbs. The Bosnian war was known as the largest massacre in Europe since World War II, as the Serbian army continuously shelled Sarajevo for over 3 years. On December 14, 1995, an agreement was signed for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Peace negotiations were then held in Dayton, Ohio on December 21, 1995. This agreement is now known as the Dayton agreement.

    Sources of Additional Information:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnian_War#The_pre-war_situation_in_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina

    http://www.conservapedia.com/Bosnian_War

  3. I have always found this to be an amazingly moving book, too. It is hard for most people to imagine such a young child having to live with so much fear. Mostly importantly, I love to see you really becoming a historian. Now, if I could just get you to talk in class.

  4. Block: 6
    March, 2010
    Kimberly Stiegler

    History:
    This book, Zlata’s Diary is a book full of long, sad, and legendary history. A war in Bosnia changed Zlata’s life forever. During the period 1991 and 1993 war occurred between Bosnia and Serbia. The Serbians put artillery positions all over the country. The shelling first started in Bascarsija and the whole country suffered with them at the same time. Not only the ones that came from Bosnia but also Serbs, Croats, and Muslims that lived in the country and that had nothing to do with the war, the politics, and the fights that were going on in Bosnia. Most people didn’t have electricity and they where running out of food and water supplies. Due to those issues, many people left the country and where looking for a better home to live in (for example in France). Some people like Zlata’s family stayed and believed in their country; every time the shooting started in their neighborhood, they hid in the cellar for protection. On the other hand, people tried to leave but couldn’t. They weren’t enough buses, trains, or planes for everyone.
    While some people stayed, the UN provided them with supplies first to help the poor and innocent people living in Bosnia. As you can imagine, the dads from the family ran across river and waited five hours to get the supplies for their families so they can survive. Even times where hard and though, the UN (Unprofor or United Nations Protection Force) helped them with supplying the people in the country first with food and water and then moving the families to a safer country to live in. In the beginning they where trying to start with a small change, by presenting a Christmas show to the people living there. They gave Christmas presents to the children and the French soldiers sang and danced in front of the audience. The next step was supplying the families with water, food, and medicine and the final step was moving them to a safer and more secure country. Zlata and her family moved to Paris like hundred other people and lived a better live there.

    Review:
    ✪ A book like no other, a story like no other, and feelings like no other: Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Flipovic and Janine Di Giovanni. The story is a diary written by a girl named Zlata from the time period about 1991 to 1993 when she was 10 to 12. The story goes through pleasant times like her enjoying birthday parties, listening to Michael Jackson and Madonna, liking a guy, seeing her best friend, and times like all people do. Then on the 15th page, those times turn around and out comes a life full of misery, unfortunate dates and friends and family dying. I would rate this book a 3 out of 5 (OOOPP) because it had good parts to it and rather bad parts on the other hand. One thing that I liked about the book was that I could really relate it to my own life. I also like Michael Jackson, playing with my friends, and having birthday parties. Another thing I liked is that the book first had an introduction about what was going on and who the characters were. That really helped me understand Zlata’s diary and all the events. On the other hand, I didn’t like the book at all; the book was boring, it didn’t hook me to it, it was an endless story, and I didn’t enjoy reading it. Therefore, I did subtracted two stars from the total five stars. I thought the book was boring because it was always the same story: Dear Mimmy, I went to a B- day party, I played with my cat, I hate war, Ciao!!. I thought that was endless, tiring and tedious. I knew Zlata had bad times but sometimes it was just the same story. I think the publisher (Unicef)/author could have made it more interesting by not putting all the entries in the book and telling a story instead. But that, that is just my opinion.

    Additional Information:

    The United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) was the first UN peacekeeping force in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Yugoslav wars. It existed between the beginning of UN involvement in February 1992, and its restructuring into other forces in March 1995. In French, its name was FORPRONU (Force de Protection des Nations Unies). The UNPROFOR was composed of nearly 39,000 personnel, 320 of whom were killed on duty. It was composed of troops from Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States. UNPROFOR won a Military Medals in Yugoslavia for helping and The color combination of the ribbon for the medals and bars consists of a background of UN blue, with a central wide band of red, representing the United Nations Protected Areas (UNPAs), flanked by thin stripes of the white. On the left side there is a narrow band of green, representing forests, and on the right side, a narrow band of brown, representing the mountains.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Protection_Force

    http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/sites/medals/unprofor.htm

    BONUS: If you want to check out more about UNPROFOR, check out a video about them during wartime on YouTube!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPDkKDbSrIs

  5. To me this book is sort of like Anne Franks Diary yet still very interesting. Nur Farah you detailed this book well and it seems interesting.

  6. Wow! This is probably one of the best blogs i have ever read. Its is amazing!

  7. It is astonishing how much you wrote it was really good. I like how spot on you where. Good job!

  8. Lulu Alnuweiri
    Block 5
    Blue Class
    Zlata’s Dairy

    This book was much like Anne Frank’s diary but by a different person, and form a different time. This war started off in a city near Sarajevo. When the war was not yet in Zlata’s city they were being sympathetic towards the other city, but a couple weeks after, the war spread to Sarajevo and people were being sympathetic towards them! This ware started in 1922 and Zlata and many other families had to move all their furniture and belonging to the living room so when the army shot at the windows no one would get hurt from glass. Throughout the entire war, Zlata was losing friends and people left and right of her, but fortunately for her, other families moved in by the houses next to her. In 1993, Zlata’s friend asked her if she kept a journal with her, and Zlata told her friend that she did, so then her friend asked her if she could publish it, and that’s what they did; publish it. The people of Sarajevo often didn’t have running water and electricity which meant they could barely ever make food inside the house. UNPROFOR, a troop from the U.N. (United Nations), transferred families to different countries so they could get out of the war.

    About 97,207 people were killed, 66% of them were Bosnians, 25% were Serbs and 8% of them were Croats. UNPROFOR was the first peacekeeping force in many European countries. Zlata decided to name her because Anne Frank had name hers, so she named her dairy Mimmy, some people even consider her as “the Anne Frank of Sarajevo”. Having her diary published made her a “celebrity” in her hometown.

    I would rate this back a 3 out 5, mainly because it was for a more immature audience, but I did learn quite a bit from with. This book was sad and detailed just enough, but in order for you to enjoy it, you had to put up with all the annoying/kid-like comments she makes. I would recommend this book if you are looking for something simple.

  9. Zlata’s Dairy
    Things I Learned:
    The war started in 1992 from a little girl’s point of view writing in her dairy. She gave her dairy to her teacher in 1993. Her family was exiled to France in 1993 and the war officially ended in 1995. The death toll from her little town was 250,000 and I learned how much a war could affect a child’s life. Zlata, a young Bosnian child from a little town in Sarajevo who loves to go to school and wants to get an education is suffering from a war in Bosnia. I understand the war was started because of politics but I don’t understand what the politics did; but what could politics do to start a war? I learned how deadly and untrustworthy those politicians were in that country. The war was so bad that people couldn’t leave and the people who did leave were lucky. I don’t know how or what was raining down on their neighborhood but I know there where kids shooting and I don’t know why they were doing it or how it started but either way I disagree. This war doesn’t make much sense to me. It makes me mad that people would do such a thing to a little town, and kill all of those innocent people for no reason. I don’t disagree for bombing a town for a good reason like protecting yourself, but to go as far as they did is wrong and unfair. There is a line that you can’t and shouldn’t cross! Why didn’t the president or the politicians help them or try to stop the shooting instead for ignoring them? And how could the whole world just sit back and do nothing to stop it?

  10. Zlata’s Dairy
    Things I Learned:
    The war started in 1992 from a little girl’s point of view writing in her dairy. She gave her dairy to her teacher in 1993. Her family was exiled to France in 1993 and the war officially ended in 1995. The death toll from her little town was 250,000 and I learned how much a war could affect a child’s life. Zlata, a young Bosnian child from a little town in Sarajevo who loves to go to school and wants to get an education is suffering from a war in Bosnia. I understand the war was started because of politics but I don’t understand what the politics did; but what could politics do to start a war? I learned how deadly and untrustworthy those politicians were in that country. The war was so bad that people couldn’t leave and the people who did leave were lucky. I don’t know how or what was raining down on their neighborhood but I know there where kids shooting and I don’t know why they were doing it or how it started but either way I disagree. This war doesn’t make much sense to me. It makes me mad that people would do such a thing to a little town, and kill all of those innocent people for no reason. I don’t disagree for bombing a town for a good reason like protecting yourself, but to go as far as they did is wrong and unfair. There is a line that you can’t and shouldn’t cross! Why didn’t the president or the politicians help them or try to stop the shooting instead for ignoring them? And how could the whole world just sit back and do nothing to stop it? I would rate this book a 3 out of 5 because it is an extremely boring book. but other wise it was a good book. It was a hard book to write about because she didn’t really go into depth or explain exactly what was going on, but she did talk about the war a lot. She really talked about random stuff a lot thats why i didn’t like it and thats why i gave it a 3 out of 5 but i am not saying you shouldn’t read it but i am saying it is boring but it is very interesting.

  11. Dear Tim,
    First of all, you need to organise your blog because it is very hard to read it. You should check your spelling. But, you do have good information about this book. I’m not sure if you have an additional information paragraph, so you should add one. Your review is okay, but you repeat a few things.
    From Juliette

  12. Hi Tim,
    Your blog is very simple as I read through it. I think it needs better organization as Julliete says but also the sentences are very short. You could work on you grammar and convetions too. Overall, maybe if you worked on these things you’ll have a more readable blog.

    Good job :)

  13. Zlata’s Diary Book by: Zlata Filipovic

    History
    Zlata’s diary is about an eleven year old girls life in wartime Sarajevo in 1992.
    Zlata and her parents were trying to survive the war in their cellar, because their
    apartment could be shot at through the windows. The war was between Bosnia and Serbia. The Serbians started shelling and shooting at one city in Bosnia, then spread
    to other cities and eventually the city of Sarajevo, where Zlata lived. There was no
    electricity, food or water for Zlata or anyone else in Bosnia at that time. Zlata said
    her whole neighborhood acted as one family to help each other survive. Tons of
    people left the country because of fear, but Zlata and her parents stayed in Bosnia,
    no matter what happened. Then the UN started providing them with food, electicity
    and water until Zlata, her family and most of the other survivors move to France
    and live there.

    Additional information
    From 1992 to 1994 the amount of deaths was around 200,000 people dead. The war began in 1992 and finished in 1995. Most people who died were innocent civilians,
    Then soldiers. Around 65% of the people killed were Bosnian Muslims. Around 25%
    Of the dead were Serbs and around 8% were Croats. This war was known as the biggest one in Europe since the World War 2. Some sources I used to find this info:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6228152.stm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnian_war

    Review
    I would give this book a 3 out of 5 stars because I could only get a little bit
    Of history from it because it is a diary and sometimes it would just skip necessary
    Parts like when the war started it didn’t explain why or how it happened and she
    Always looked at the negative side of things like she would complain that the cellar
    Was smelly or uncomfortable well at least she had a place to stay in because many
    People didn’t during the war. Those were the only things I didn’t like about the book.
    But some things that I liked was that she showed what the war was like from her
    (mostly negative) point of view.

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