GRAPHIC NOVELS

When Stars Are Scattered

Dial. Apr. 2020. 264p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780525553915.
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Gr 4-8–Perennial comic book favorite Jamieson teams up with Mohamed, a Somalian refugee, to tell a heartbreaking story inspired by Mohamed’s life. Cared for by kind Fatuma, an older woman who also lost her family, Omar and his little brother Hassan have lived in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya since they were small, when their father was killed and they were separated from their mother while fleeing civil war. Though Omar loves looking after Hassan, who is mostly nonverbal, life in the camp, where “it felt like all you ever did was wait,” is stultifying and grindingly difficult. When Omar has the opportunity to attend school, he and his friends realize that they can increase their families’ painfully slim chances at being chosen for resettlement. Heavier on text compared with Jamieson’s usual fare, this title still features the expressive, gentle style of Roller Girl or All’s Faire in Middle School—the language of cartoons makes the subject matter accessible to a middle grade audience. Indeed, the authors highlight moments of levity and sweetness as the children and their families do their best to carve out meaningful lives in the bleakest of circumstances. An afterword and author’s notes go into greater detail about Mohamed’s life, how the two met and decided to collaborate, which elements of the story are fictitious, and how to help other refugees.
VERDICT With this sensitive and poignant tale, Jamieson and Mohamed express the power of the human spirit to persevere.

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