Cover image for Zlata's diary : a child's life in Sarajevo
Zlata's diary : a child's life in Sarajevo
Filipović, Zlata.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Zlatin dnevnik. English
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Penguin Books, 1995.

Physical Description:
197 pages, 12 unnumbered leaves of plates : color illustrations, color portraits ; 19 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : Penguin Books, 1994.
Reading Level:
640 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.3 5.0 11144.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.1 7 Quiz: 12983 Guided reading level: X.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DR1312.F5 A3 1994C Adult Non-Fiction Classics
DR1312.F5 A3 1994C Adult Non-Fiction Reading List

On Order



In a voice both innocent and wise, touchingly reminiscent of Anne Frank's, Zlata Filipovic's diary has awoken the conscience of the world. Zlata began her diary just before her eleventh birthday, when there was peace in Sarajevo and her life was that of a bright, intelligent, carefree young girl. Her early entries describe her friends, her new skis, her family, her grades at school, her interest in joining the Madonna Fan Club. And then, on television, she sees the bombs falling on Dubrovnik. Though repelled by the sight, Zlata cannot conceive of the same thing happening in Sarajevo. When it does, the whole tone of her diary changes. Early on, she starts an entry to "Dear Mimmy" (named after her dead goldfish): "SLAUGHTERHOUSE! MASSACRE! HORROR! CRIMES! BLOOD! SCREAMS! DESPAIR!" We see the world of a child increasingly circumscribed by the violence outside. Zlata is confined to her family's apartment, spending the nights, as the shells rain down mercilessly, in a neighbor's cellar. And the danger outside steadily invades her life. No more school. Living without water and electricity. Food in short supply. The onslaught destroys the pieces she loves, kills or injures her friends, visibly ages her parents. In one entry Zlata cries out, "War has nothing to do with humanity. War is something inhuman." In another, she thinks about killing herself. Yet, with indomitable courage and a clarity of mind well beyond her years, Zlata preserves what she can of her former existence, continuing to study piano, to find books to read, to celebrate special occasions - recording it all in the pages of this extraordinary diary.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Zlata Filipovic of Sarajevo began keeping her diary in 1991, just before her eleventh birthday. Ebullient and accomplished, Zlata recorded the swirl of activities she avidly pursued, from school to piano lessons, skiing, parties, and watching her favorite TV shows, all American. We immediately sense that Zlata and her family have a deep love for their country, but just as we begin to enjoy Zlata's fine young mind and cheerful disposition, the chaos and terror of war shatter her world. Schools close, socializing becomes too risky, and what was once a cozy home is transformed into a fragile shelter bereft of electricity or water. In spite of great tragedy and deprivation, Zlata keeps making her lucid diary entries, carefully chronicling the claustrophobia, boredom, resignation, anger, despair, and fear war brings. Another birthday passes, and Zlata's observations become even sharper and more searing. The convoys of fleeing citizens remind her of movies she's seen of the Holocaust; she notices that grief and hardship have made her valiant parents haggard and sorrowful; and she can't believe that her clothes no longer fit. How could she be growing when she has so little to eat? With a precision and vision beyond her years, Zlata writes that the "political situation is stupidity in motion," and more hauntingly, "life in a closed circle continues." Zlata brings Sarajevo home as no news report can. Her diary was first published by UNICEF, then released in France; U.S. serial rights have gone to Newsweek, and Zlata and her parents will be visiting here this month. (Reviewed Mar. 1, 1994)0670857246Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ten-year-old Croatian Filipovic's graphic, firsthand account of life in embattled Sarajevo was a nine-week PW bestseller. Photos. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In September 1991, at the beginning of a new school year and while war was already as close as Croatia, Filipovic, a ten-year-old girl in Sarajevo began keeping a diary about her school friends, her classes, and her after-school activities. The following spring that childhood world disappeared when the war moved to Sarajevo. Instead of school and parties, her world came to consist of cowering in cellars during the shelling, trying to survive despite intermittent electric power and water supply, and sadness: sadness when friends and relatives left the besieged city for a safer area; sadness when those who remained behind were killed; sadness that her childhood had vanished. Filipovic has no interest in the politics of this war (she dismisses all political leaders contemptuously as ``kids'') but only in its effects on those close to her. The power of her book lies precisely in its concern with innocence lost. Recommended for popular collections.-Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.