The Unexpected Friend: A Rohingya Children’s Story

Guba. Nov. 2020. 36p. Tr $20. ISBN 9781946747105.
K-Gr 4–Faisal is on his way home from prayers at the mosque in the refugee camp where he lives in Bangladesh. His family walked there from Myanmar, where it was no longer safe for them to live. He finds an injured bird and decides to take it home to see if he can help it. Faisal falls as he’s gathering firewood and injures his arm, so he and the bird are healing together. When they are both well, Faisal finds that he has grown attached to the bird and doesn’t want to let him go, but eventually does. The choice of the crisp colorful style of the illustrations paired with such a somber, desperate setting is stunning. The images have sharp edges and no shadows, which gives them a bit of a folkloric feel, but perfectly reflects each scene. The book will evoke empathy from readers, even though the messaging is deliberately understated.
VERDICT This beautiful offering has a lovely message of helping others, making it a solid choice for collections needing titles about social emotional learning or the plight of refugees.

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