The Refuge

Amazon. May 2020. 36p. tr. from French by Daniel Hahn. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781542020503.
Gr 1-4–When Jeannette develops a fascination with stars and the sky, her parents wonder why and learn that a new girl has joined Jeannette’s class. Her parents encourage Jeannette to ask the girl her questions. Very quickly Jeannette and Iliana become friends and hold long conversations without using words. When Jeannette’s parents ask more about her new friend, Jeannette tells the harrowing story of how Iliana and her family came to their country. Le Guen has managed to take a complex plot and difficult message and combine them into an easy-to-follow story from an outsider’s point of view. The words are clear, and the plot flows well. Hahn’s translation is excellent. Nicolet’s illustrations reinforce the child’s perspective, showing the emotions and difficulty behind Iliana’s family’s journey to a new home. Le Guen, Nicolet, and Hahn tell a powerful tale about refuge and refugees, helping readers make sense of a complex crisis.
VERDICT A great story to help children understand a refugee’s perspective.

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