Sunday, July 9, 2017

Stormy Seas

 
     I saw this book on NetGalley a while back and decided that it would be good for me to read. I don't know many refugees personally, and I the ones I do know I don't know well enough to ask their stories. With the events of the world and in the US lately, refugees have been on my mind more than they had previously been. I thought this book might open up some conversations with my sons about how their lives are similar/different from the lives of children in different times and places.  In the introduction, the author writes "If you're reading this, you-like me- have probably won the lottery. Not the giant-check, instant-millionaire kind of lottery. The other lottery in-   the really valuable one. That random, lucky break that means you were born-or immigrated to a relatively peaceful and prosperous place in the world. Along with all the other amazing things about you, that makes you pretty extraordinary."  I think that is an important point that many kids might not have thought about much before.
      Stormy Seas tells the story of 5 people who fled their countries on boats. Ruth is 18 when she flees from the Nazis in 1939 with the intention of arriving in Cuba. However, after 6 days in Havana Harbor, their boat is turned away and told to return to Europe. Ruth eventually ends up in England.  Phu leaves his family and travels from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon.  Thirteen year old Jose leaves the Castro regime in Cuba to come to the United States. Najeeba, 11 in 2000, escapes Afghanistan through Pakistan and India before arriving in Australia. Mohamed, a 13 year old orphan,  arrives in Italy after fleeing the Ivory Coast, working in Guinea, Mali, and Algeria, being smuggled into Libya, then crossing the Mediterranean to Malta. 
      I thought this book was good. The art in the book is similar to what you see on the cover. I liked the collage aspect of it and liked that they showed the routes each child has traveled on a map. I asked my youngest son what he thought of the art and he said he thought "it was interesting" and "likes the patterns" in the background of a lot of pages. I liked that they told what happened to each person later in their life as well. The book also includes a brief history of people who had "come by boat" before these 5 as well as after these 5.  The stories of each person were told in an appropriate manner for children. There were also a lot of subject specific vocabulary- like "refugee," "asylum," etc- that are defined for kids who might not have encountered these words in previous reading. 
      I am planning on recommending this book to our middle school librarian and the librarian at my son's school. This book is available from Annick Press.
     

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