TUZLA—It’s no fun being stuck inside the house all weekend because your town is getting shelled. Especially when you’re an energetic young girl who loves to play soccer and run relay races. So recently, when 11-year-old Stadja Petrovic of Tuzla was cooped up in her basement for three whole days because of a massive Serb counterattack, she made the best of a potentially boring situation... She made a totally fun art project out of her mother’s skull!

Now that’s using your head!

How did she do it? Well, it was easier than you might think!

First, Stadja collected whatever she could find lying around the house for materials—crayons, glue, scraps of paper, rotting flesh of loved ones, glitter—you name it! Then, the resourceful little Stadja took the skull of her recently killed mother, the family had been saving for proper burial after the war, and decorated it with all the neat stuff she had collected. Finally, she drilled a great big hole in the top of the skull and... Voila! Stadja had made herself a way-cool pencilholder!

Is Stadja happy with the way it came out? Definitely!

“I miss my mother very much,” said the plucky Stadja, a fifth-grader at Stojkonovic Road Elementary School in Tuzla. “Death is everywhere.”

Stadja was so proud of her new pencilholder she decided to bring it to school to show it off. “At least if my mother is not alive, I can have part of her with me at school,” she said. “My two brothers died this year too.”

Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who were impressed with Stadja’s totally cool pencilholder. Stadja’s teacher, Mrs. Tudjman, was so taken aback by it, she decided to assign an art project to the entire class. Next Monday, all students are expected to bring in the body part of a parent or sibling to make a creative arts project.

Much as casings explode in theoretically “safe haven” territory around their school, Stadja and her classmates are exploding with enthusiasm over their new assignment.

“My younger brother Josip blown apart by a mortar shell on way to grocery last week,” said Alija Sarinic, who hopes to make a super-duper tape dispenser with his sibling’s remains. “He was only seven.”

Classmate Draja Izetbegovic was equally enthused. “My mother and father were executed by Serb nationalists earlier this year,” Izetbegovic said. The boy plans to make a candleholder, or possibly a puppet, out of his parents.

Even Mrs. Tudjman is getting into the act, planning a project of her own.

“Last year, my apartment building was bombed, and my ceiling collapsed on me, crushing me underneath,” she said. “My left leg was trapped under an enormous cinderblock for several hours and eventually was amputated below the knee.” She’ll turn the severed limb into a tie rack for her husband.

Wow, with the excitement Mrs. Tudjman’s class shows, you’d almost forget there’s a war going on! And you’d certainly never guess the war was brutal and seemingly endless, marked by shocking brutality on all sides, mass murder and rape of civilians, Holocaust-invoking ethnic cleansing, broken treaties and general indifference from the rest of the world!

No doubt, until peace in Bosnia is secured for good, the bodies of both soldiers and innocent civilians alike will continue to pile up. But thanks to a certain young girl named Stadja, so will the fun!