BOOKS
The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees
illus. by Don Brown. 112p. bibliog. maps. notes. HMH. Sept. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781328810151.
COPY ISBN
Gr 8 Up—In the spring of 2011, a group of teenage boys are imprisoned and tortured for spray-painting "Down with the regime" on a Syrian wall. Thousands of citizens who rise up in protest are met by tanks and snipers. The demonstrations and violence escalate, and civil war breaks out in Syria. Unsure of their chances for survival but certain of the dangers at home, thousands of refugees flee to surrounding areas. Blocks of text provide context about Syria's civil war, as well as commentary on the international response, with supporting maps and charts seamlessly incorporated into the story. The loose linework reflects the chaos, and the full-color art depicts a muted sepia and blue gray palette, with touches of brighter hues for effect. Violence is freely but not gratuitously shown, and death is depicted only rarely. The back matter includes an extensive bibliography, with citations for the numerous quotes used in the dialogue, as well as a journal summary of Brown's 2017 trip to Syrian camps in Greece, complete with pictures and source notes.
VERDICT This accessible and heartbreaking primer, with its stirring simplicity and a note of hope, should be required reading for all teens hoping to be empathetic and engaged world citizens.

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