This bilingual children’s picture book (English and Arabic) is worth reading for the illustrations alone. The three dimensional characters, made from beach stone by Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, are so expressive and exquisite that they tell a story of their own. Badr conveys the plight of refugees, although he himself has never left Syria. He explains, “How could I leave the country that gave to humanity the world’s oldest writing, the cuneiform alphabet?”
Author Margriet Ruurs has added a story of a young girl who also loves Syria, yet is forced to flee when the bombs fall close to her family home. The text conveys the beauty of daily life in her homeland, the pain of leaving, and the fact that the journey is so dangerous that not all travelers survive.
The realistic nature of the book then shifts when the refugees arrive in another country, welcomed with open arms. Adults can explain to young readers that while this is how it should be, sadly it is not the norm. Additionally, the publisher’s promotional description of the book references Syria’s “civil war” instead of the injustice from foreign intervention. Badr is quoted on his website as saying that he feels the “deepest love for my homeland that is suffering from the appalling injustice inflicted upon it by alien global elites.” The publisher should have included not only Badr’s illustrations, but also his political knowledge and analysis of Syria. We recommend getting the book for the illustrations and supplementing the text while reading it aloud.
Pub.Date: 05/05/2020, Paperback
Random House Graphic