Where are we going?

Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk with Tuan Ho. Adrift At Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival. Toronto: Pajama Press, 2016.
In 1981, six-year-old Tuan escaped with his mother and two of his sisters. In the middle of the night, they got on a boat which took them far out to sea where they were rescued by sailors on an American aircraft carrier. Illustrated by award-winning Brian Deines, this powerful picture book tells the true story of one child’s journey as a refugee from Vietnam to Canada. Accompanied by historical and biographical information, as well as numerous photographs, this informative and inspiring story is recommended for readers 8 years old and up.

More books by Canadian authors HERE

More books about refugees HERE

More picture book memoirs HERE

Explore!

Perkins, Lynne Rae. Frank and Lucky Get Schooled. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2016.
Frank and Lucky – a boy and a dog – have fun learning together. Botany. Entomology. Chemistry. Astronomy. Taxonomy. Reading. Math. History. Art. Geography. Foreign Languages. And Hospitality. Together, they discover that they are learning inside, outside, everywhere they go. A joyous story for all ages to enjoy together.

More dog stories HERE

How I Learned Geography

Shulevitz, Uri. How I Learned Geography. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008. 
A young boy uses his imagination to travel the world in this picture book recommended for readers 8 to 14 years old. An afterword that provides historical details about the acclaimed author’s life including his childhood as a refugee.

More picture book memoirs HERE

Fairy Tales for Teens

Great novels give us new information and new ideas. They also make us more humble. They help us see ourselves as part of the universe rather than at the centre of it. They give us courage to keep going when none of our plans work out and we have to start all over again.  

Here are two stories about current world events that are unfortunately not so great, even though they are quite entertaining and even informative:

 

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz (Harlequin Teen, 2016) is not a great novel. It tells the story of a teenager who wins a National Scholarship Award but discovers she is ineligible. Her Filipino parents have been working without proper documentation and now the whole family is about to be deported. Jasmine, a popular cheerleader, has always worked hard to do everything perfectly. Now all her plans are in jeopardy because her parents have failed to become legal residents of the U.S.A.  

The portrayal of life for undocumented residents is informative. The depiction of emotional pain encourages empathy. But the story is altogether too much of a fairy tale: Jasmine is a self-pitying heroine who must prevail over the forces of injustice. This 432-page novel, inspired by the author’s experiences, is recommended for teenagers looking for a romance story that doesn’t threaten their own sense of self-importance.

Red Glass by Laura Resau (Delacorte Press, 2007) is another disappointing novel. Sixteen-year-old Sophie learns more about life for illegal immigrants while travelling from Arizona to Mexico and Guatemala. The story vividly portrays the hardships faced by people fleeing their homelands. It loudly declares the unfairness of showing compassion for refugees from Europe while rejecting immigrants from Central America.  And that is much of the problem. Everything is just so obvious. And so this book, too, turns into a fairy tale: an innocent heroine learning to overcome her fears in order to show her true goodness. Despite winning several awards, this 275-page novel can only be recommended for readers willing to learn about current events but really wanting a romance.

Click HERE to learn how to assess novels and picture books.

Click HERE for books on migration and refugees.

You, Too, Were Once Strangers

“While every refugee’s story is different and their anguish personal, they all share a common thread of uncommon courage – the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives.” – Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary-General

There are many novels about courageous people who helped others during the Holocaust. There are far fewer about brave people who help others today; one of the most powerful is this novel from Britain. 

Halahmy, Miriam. Hidden. New York: Holiday House, 2016.

“Fourteen-year-old Alix is faced with a huge moral dilemma when she helps pull an illegal Iraqi immigrant from the incoming tide on the coastal English island where she lives.” – CIP.  Stories written in present tense from the first-person point of view are frequently tiresome in their self-obsession but this novel is a remarkable exception. Alix has no perfect life and no illusions about her own importance. What she has is the ability to see life from someone else’s point of view. Discovering the horror of life for refugees fleeing torture and seeking asylum opens her heart and reveals her courage in this novel highly recommended for all readers 12 years old and up. [England; Family problems; Friendship; Iraqis; Racism; Refugees; Schools; Secrets]

“For a start, people who traveled for so many miles through such horrific conditions in order to find work cannot accurately be portrayed as lazy benefit-scroungers”. – Patrick Kingsley, British journalist

Find more books about migration and refugees HERE

“I urge you to celebrate the extraordinary courage and contributions of refugees past and present.” – Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General

Find information and lessons on human migration HERE.