Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Book To Help Us Understand

        Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover terrific nonfiction picture books!

         Tomorrow is the International Day of Peace. Many are invited to share something on social media or a blog post about your wishes for peace. Here is a post that gives the history of this day. Look to the right and click on the dove to find one invitation.

        It's an appropriate time to share Stormy Seas: Stories of young boat refugees by Mary Beth LeatherDale, illustrated by Eleanor Shakespeare. There are people all over our world who need to flee their homes to find safety. Eleanor has filled the pages with starkly created  pages of paintings, parts of photographs, maps, graphic images that tell a tale of heartbreak and hope, courage and despair as Mary Beth tells the stories of five refugees, this time those who can be called "boat people." At the time of their flights, they were children, sometimes with family but often alone. Each one spoke of starving, going without water. Each spoke of being terrified of drowning, but expressed in different ways that there was no going back, they would rather die. 
      In these situations, the descriptions of the journeys and then the life in the migrant or detainment camps are starkly told. Most sold everything, used all savings in order to escape terrible dangers only to face others . Sadly, their hopes and sacrifices continued to be hard, even when they survived the horrific boat rides. They also experienced discrimination upon arrival, during the time they were finally allowed to become part of the new countries, struggled and struggled for years. 
     The book is organized around those five journeys with a table of contents, a timeline of escapes by boat since World War II, resources, cedits and acknowledgments. The individual parts give an intro about the person, a part in his or her own words, and a "What Happened To" section. Within that text, there are illustrated maps, small bits of other information like a personal timeline. 

      Here are a few lines from the book that are used as large quotes on certain pages: 

"People are whispering that they are going to SEND us BACK to Germany."
"I have to fight to survive."
"One minute, it feels like we are on top of a mountain and the next it's like we're crashing down the cliff."
"Our destiny, our future depends on this piece of wood."

       It is suitable for older readers from fifth grade up to begin a research journey to learn about the past and to understand what is happening today.  If studying the plight of refugees, this may be used as a read aloud, part by part, perhaps sharing fictional books also that can be read as accompaniments. There are some parallels in these stories with Alan Gratz' book, Refugee.  Here is one list of twenty other books for children about refugees.


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  2. Thank you for this, Linda. My younger daughter lives overseas serving asylum seekers, and the stories are heartbreaking. I'm going to go put this book on reserve right away.

    1. Oh, I had forgotten about your daughter. How wonderful that she is giving her skills to those so in need. I hope you find the book good, though it is so sad, too. Thanks, Laura!

  3. My all-time favorite Thanksgiving book is Eve Bunting's How Many Days to America? I'm so sorry that we still need books like these, but I too, am going to try to reserve this one.

    1. Eve Bunting has brought us more than one book that shows the importance of knowing our world in all its ups and downs. Thanks for reminding about this one, Annette. I'm not sure I have read it.


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