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Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees Hardcover – April 11, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Across time, desperation has driven people from their homes in search of refuge—and the only way out is often through a stormy passage on the sea. Ruth was one of 900 Jewish people who boarded a ship, hoping to escape Nazi Germany; Mohammed, orphaned during the civil war in the Ivory Coast, scrounged up money to board a narrow, crowded boat headed for Europe. While Shakespeare provides evocative collage artwork, Leatherdale deftly retells the stories in spare but honest language; the text does not shy away from the perilous circumstances that the young people both escaped from and encountered. There are no guarantees of happy endings, but the information is important for students to understand. It is impossible to ignore the importance of a book like this in the current political climate, and educators and librarians looking for a human face for the refugee crisis will find this offering essential. VERDICT A timely, powerful piece of nonfiction, this is a first purchase for most collections.—Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter's Preparatory School, Jersey City
“Timely stories of courage and resilience.” —The Banner, 08/04/17(Jenny deGroot The Banner)
“An extraordinary resource, compelling in content and useful as a resource to launch research.” —Unpacking the Power of Picture Books, 07/16/17(Unpacking the Power of Picture Books)
“[The] stories get gorgeously, affectingly enhanced by London-based artist Eleanor Shakespeare.” —Bookdragon, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, 04/17(Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center)
“A timely, powerful piece of nonfiction, this is a first purchase for most collections.” —School Library Journal, *starred review, 04/17(Erinn Black Salge School Library Journal)
“Gut-punch of a volume … offers an affecting perspective on the plight of refugees and emphasizes that this human-rights crisis is an ongoing, urgent issue.” —Booklist, *starred review, 04/15/17(Anita Lock Booklist)
“Harrowing, wrenching, and hopeful.” —Publishers Weekly, *starred review, 03/27/17(Publishers Weekly)
“An important and powerful book that is sure to spark discussion about the refugee crisis. A must have purchase for school and public libraries.”—CM Magazine, 09/15/17(Linda Ludke CM Magazine)
“The format helps a great deal as well as the overall layout that appeared somewhat like a newsletter, chunking the information into bite-size pieces that even the more reluctant readers would be drawn to read.”—Gathering Books, 11/28/17(Gathering Books)
“It’s hard not to be moved by the sagas of these adolescents desperate to find a better life.” —Cooperstown Crier, 11/16/17(Cooperstown Crier)
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By Mary Beth Leatherdale
Illustrated by Eleanor Shakespeare
The phenomenon of desperate refugees risking their lives to reach safety is not new. For hundreds of years, people have left behind family, friends, and all they know in hope of a better life. This book presents five true stories about young people who lived through the harrowing experience of setting sail in search of asylum: Ruth and her family board the St. Louis to escape Nazism; Phu sets out alone from war-torn Vietnam; José tries to reach the U.S. from Cuba; Najeeba flees Afghanistan and the Taliban; Mohamed, an orphan, runs from his village on the Ivory Coast. Aimed at middle grade students, Stormy Seas combines a contemporary collage-based design, sidebars, fact boxes, timeline and further reading to produce a book that is ideal for both reading and research. Readers will gain new insights into a situation that has constantly been making the headlines.
This book is heart and gut wrenching. So much so, that I found myself in a quandary in how to begin. This is a story that needs to be told and told again and again. This is our world’s history from the 1600’s (and probably long before) to the present day...over 400 years of children and families seeking a safe place to live. I’m not going to get into the politics, ethical, religious and social issues of the circumstances involved. These are stories of five children out of how many???? I have absolutely no idea,,,too may to be sure. This book is not a fairytale and there is no princess. It is not fantasy or make-believe either. This is a story about real children who live in real danger every single day. It is a story about parents who are trying their best to save their children and to give them a chance at a better and longer life.
First there is Ruth who was !8 when she had to flee Nazi Germany in 1939 and who, in a circumvented way, eventually ended up in the USA.
Next is Phu who had to leave Vietnam at the age of 14. He arrived here in the USA in 1980.
Jose had a much shorter journey; but by no means any safer. He fled Cuba for the USA in 1980. He was 13.
Najeeba left Afghanistan at the tender age of 11. She arrived in Australia in 2000.
Then there is Mohamed who found his way to Italy in 2006. He was 13.
How these five children arrived at their final destinations is so vividly told that a child of the same age as these child refugees would be able to understand their stories AND, I think, THAT is what is important. The art work by Eleanor Shakespeare is beyond amazing as it brings visualization to each story. It is important to read every single page from the introduction to all of the time lines to fully begin to grasp the seriousness, gravity and danger of each story. These are only five stories out of thousands, hundreds of thousands through out the years who have had to flee their homeland with their parents or alone to just stay alive. I can't imagine nor fathom such a situation or environment.
Parental Note: This book is recommended by the publisher for children 10-12. I had to give this some serious thought as I have a 10 year old granddaughter. My recommendation would be to read this book WITH your 10 year old child. For children older, I suggest you read the book first in order to be prepared to answer any questions and for some serious discussions. Again, I reiterate, this is not a fairytale nor fantasy...this is real life for so many children. A story that our own children should know about.
Thank you to Netgalley who gave me this book to review for an honest opinion.
The five journeys include a young lady fleeing the Nazis and sailing for Cuba, A 14-year old Vietnamese boy fleeing for life in the United States, and A young woman fleeing the Taliban for life in Australia. In all cases the journeys were complicated by things storms, overcrowded boats, or countries that wanted to turn them back. Each story tells what happened to the person.
The book ends with an timeline of refugees from World War II to the present. There is also a list of references of groups that work with refugees or have history about them.
It's aimed at younger readers and it's done very well. The seriousness of the peril is there without going into graphic details. Historical context is given as well as timelines. I really appreciated getting to read this book.
I received a review copy of this ebook from Annick Press Ltd. and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.