Told in his own words, this is the story of Navid, his flight from Iran and his arrival in England as a political refugee. The book started life as part of the BBC Learning Zone’s Seeking Refuge animated series before making the crossover into print.
The narrative has authenticity and the graphics are certainly distinctive, but I couldn’t help feeling that the animation from which the book derives is the more effective of the two. Part of its problem rests with the frequent tension between the vocabulary of a 16-year-old: ‘I could see the concern on my mum’s face’ and that of the four-year-old child reliving the experience: ‘I was upset for nearly the whole journey’.
The use of colour certainly conveys his flight from fear to freedom, but the graphics add to the confusion – they seem to be designed to capture the attention of younger readers, which is belied by the serious content of the narrative and the skill that is needed to read the text independently.
The book has a place in an Upper Key Stage 2 classroom, but not as general reading material. We live in a time when much of the world is migrating and children are surrounded by its media coverage. Properly contextualised, the book could be helpful in developing an understanding of why people leave everything and travel half way round the world in search of safety. Without contextualising, it runs the risk of being just another book about immigration. In the current social climate, that could actually be harmful, so use this book as an information text and guide the discussions that it will provoke.