“Everyone knows the word ‘war’. But very few understand what it truly means. Until you’ve been there, you don’t know what war is.”
Yeva Skalietska is a 12-year-old Ukrainian girl who grew up living with her granny in Kharkiv, near the Russian border. She loves learning languages, bowling, playing the piano and painting. Yeva has written You Don’t Know What War Is, a diary of her experiences of fleeing war in Ukraine.
On Thursday 24th February 2022, Yeva Skalietska was woken by the sound of explosions. Though there had been rumblings and rumours, few truly believed that war would break out between Russia and Ukraine. And yet – it did. What followed were twelve days in Ukraine that changed Yeva’s life forever. Yeva and her granny rushed to take shelter from the missile attacks in a dusty, crowded basement. When the situation worsened, they needed to find somewhere safer to stay, so they made their way to a friend’s house in a different area of the city. But the conflict raged all around them and Yeva struggled to keep calm over the continual sound of explosions and shelling. Eventually they took the difficult decision to head to Western Ukraine. It’s there, in a makeshift shelter in a school hall, that Yeva met the team of UK news reporters who would alter the course of her life. She told them she was writing a diary. The poise and maturity of Yeva’s account were striking, and the crew featured her in several news articles. They helped Yeva and her granny cross the border into Hungary and, ultimately, to find a place to live in Dublin, where they were welcomed and cared for by their host, school teacher Catherine Flannagan.
Yeva’s diary You Don't Know What War Is was acquired by Lara Hancock, Head of Illustrated Publishing, with Commissioning Editor Sally Beets of Bloomsbury in auction and is due for publication in October.
US rights were pre-empted by Emily Meehan and Claire Wachtel of Union Square Publishers.
Translation rights are handled by Vicki Satlow Literary Agency.
Lara Hancock of Bloomsbury says, “In You Don’t Know What War Is, we read about Yeva’s experience of the war in Ukraine in real time. Each diary entry is interspersed with personal photos Yeva took during her journey. Compelling and urgent, this book is a powerful document of a conflict few thought could happen, seen through the eyes of a child.”
Yeva says, “I began writing this diary to help me cope with my painful feelings and to write down my experiences so that years from now I can remember how my childhood was destroyed by war…Publishing my book will help me rebuild my life and I hope it will help readers understand, even a little bit, what war really is like. I want to dedicate my book to my beloved granny who has always done all she can to keep me safe.”
Sally Beets adds, “Yeva’s story has touched us deeply. Her writing is immediate and important and we’re so honoured that Yeva chose to publish You Don’t Know What War Is with Bloomsbury. It is a book that everyone needs to read.”
Yeva now lives in Dublin, Ireland where she has made new friends and had a go at Irish dancing but is always missing home.
You Don’t Know What War Is:
Globo Livros (Brazil), Otava Publishing Company Ltd (Finland),Michel Lafon (France),Droemer Knaur Verlagsgruppe (Germany), Alexandra Group Europa Kiado, (Hungary), Deagostini (Italy), Thinking Power Books (Korea), Deagostini (Italy), Alma Littera (Lithuania), Xander Uitgevers (Netherlands), Gyldendal Norsk Forlag (Norway), Escolar Editora (Portugal) Bookzone (Romania), Otava Publishing Planeta (Spain), Bazar Forlag AB (Sweden), Vivat Publishing (Ukriane)