A Feast for Joseph

Groundwood. Sept. 2021. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781773064383.
K-Gr 2–In a heartfelt but flawed book, what Joseph misses most about the refugee camp is the meals he used to share with others. Now that it is just him and his mother, there aren’t enough people to eat with. Joseph’s grandma is still in Africa and will travel to see him, but not in time for dinner. His auntie just lives across town, but she has to work a double shift. His teacher would love to come for dinner sometime, but sometime isn’t soon enough. Will Joseph’s wish to share a meal with others come true? Set in an undisclosed city, the story establishes that Joseph and his mother are Acholi and have recently been relocated from a refugee camp in East Africa. There is no mention of the tribal nation in the story itself, and the refugee camp remains a plot point that doesn’t build background for young readers. In general, readers may have a hard time following the story. Setting and action move quickly and confusingly from spread to spread, with abrupt shifts in scenery. While the illustrations are full of movement and bright colors, and will certainly be attractive to young readers, the underdeveloped plot makes this title less useful as either an independent read or a teaching text.
VERDICT Not recommended for purchase. For stories about refugees, consider Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour and What Is A Refugee by Elise Gravel.

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