The Boy Who Refused to Sing

The Boy Who Refused to Sing was inspired by Leeza's father, Nikola Baric, who escaped from former Yugoslavia in search of freedom in 1957.

Based on a true story, it is a simple narrative with universal themes. While it is about the brutality of life under communism, the book questions how free any of us are today.

What songs are you being forced to sing and how far would you go to fight for your freedom?


what people say

Wow...what an incredibly unique book with a deeply emotive and thought-provoking true story to tell. Based on a family memoir of life in the former Yugoslavia under Marshall Tito's regime, it's an evocatively dark and sombre reminder of the price many have paid to stand for what they believe in.

The stunningly tenebrous illustration and discriminating narrative took me on a heart-felt, voyeuristic journey into this family's suffering and determination to fight for their freedom. It seeped through me in silent tears and left me in a quiet reverence...realising we are all fighting for freedom on some level.

Definitely a one for the in-print bookshelf!


Interesting concept for a picture book. I like how you've got images placed around that mean something. It's like everywhere you look, it's a symbol, reflecting the theme of the story. Strong message. Not for kids but sure gives adults something to think about. free are we? Good Question. Can't say we are. Interesting book. Something that could be studied perhaps at older level in schools. A lot in it. Thanks.

s d welling

The book was quite dark, in idea and in the images. But...I liked it. Made me think and question. I'd love to know more about what inspired it. 

name withheld on request

"This story may be short but packs a powerful emotional punch. You have to admire the courage of someone who was prepared to stand up for his beliefs when it would have been so much easier and safer to shut up and sing like everyone else, and the fact that he was a schoolboy makes it even more heroic.

The images are beautifully rendered and work well with the words to give just the right emotional tone


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Image of Ivica Baric for The Boy Who Refused to Sing

"Dedicated to all those who fight for freedom. Life has no meaning if we are not free!” (Leeza Baric)

My father, Nikola Baric is the original boy who refused to sing. He refused to sing a song about the repressive dictator, Tito from Former Yugoslavia, being like a flower, and was told that he wouldn’t pass the school year if he didn’t sing.

But he refused to sing!

My father risked his life for freedom and saved many people. That's him with his one suitcase migrating to Australia in 1959. He was my inspiration for the title. The rest of this story is based on his brother’s story; Ivica, who was murdered for singing about freedom. The secret police arrested him and tortured him to death and said that he killed himself. We must never forget those who died in the fight for freedom. And we must question how far we would go to stand up for our freedom.

This is just one story from those times, but there are millions more. We must never forget those who died in the fight for freedom. And we must question how far we would go to stand up for our freedom


Get a sneak peek of the Story & Illustrations of The Boy Who Refused To Sing