Do not be misled into thinking this is a simple picture book appropriate for the Kinderbox. Rather it is a collection of poems, written by Nicola Davies, to describe and respond to the experience of being a refugee; of being that person who has had to leave a home to travel to a foreign country, facing a difficult passage through the many border controls only to arrive and find a cold welcome. The poems are short, only one is more than three stanzas, and have been arranged under the headings Departure, Arrival and Healing. Each group is a sequence of four. The result is this elegant slim book. However, this does not diminish the power or the emotional impact of the whole. An impact that is then made more powerful by Petr Horáček’s paintings which are dramatically different from the art we associate with him; this is art for a different audience and mirroring a different sort of text. His style is always saturated with colour. Here he turns to a very different palette. This is sombre, harsh, the textured washes a foil for brilliant splashes of reds, blues yellows; it is art expressing the emotions – anguish, desperation, anxiety and finally with Davies’ illuminating poem Unbroken, hope. Framing this collection are brief essays from the author and the illustrator as well as from Onjali Rai whose lived experience is reflected here. The whole is dedicated to the charity Choose Love. This is a book to put before teens and young adults for a personal response, maybe a discussion that might even lead to the creation of more poems. more artwork.
There are many books both fiction and nonfiction now looking at the humanitarian crisis that is the result of war and climate change, this is one to be highly recommended.