Posts Tagged ‘Refugees’

The Water Bottle by Philippa Werry, Illus. Burak Akbay. Pub. Oratia, 2022

April 6, 2022 Comments off

Derya is a new immigrant to New Zealand from Turkey and her Great grandfather Hasan fought against ANZAC forces at Gallipoli in WW1. The Turks regarded the Gallipoli landings as an invasion of their country and many were killed on both sides.

Now Derya is in the land of the former enemy, a land that reveres Gallipoli and the men that died there with great reverence. How will she cope?

First day at school is hard but she sits with Airini and Tom. Tom’s Great grandfather fought at Gallipoli and was killed and he has a desire to go there to see what it was all about.

During a battle at Gallipoli Hasan received a water bottle from a New Zealand soldier and it is still with Derya’s family. When Derya touches the Water bottle she dreams horrible dreams about the battles that took place. Could their be a link between the two great grandfathers? Check it out and see what you think.

Superbly illustrated by Turkish Illustrator Burak Akbay who is able to portray the action through Derya’s dreams.

Old enemies can be friends. Just in time for ANZAC Day. For everybody.

Boy Giant. Son of Gulliver by Michael Morpurgo, illus. Michael Foreman.

October 4, 2019 Comments off

Boy GiantBoy Giant. Son of Gulliver by Michael Morpurgo, illus. Michael Foreman. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

This is story telling at it’s very very best. It combines a real situation of refugees leaving their homeland because of war, with the classic tale of Gulliver and his adventures in Lilliput.

Omar and his mother leave their village in Afghanistan after it is bombed and destroyed  with the loss of a sister and father. Their journey is long tortuous and soul destroying but they stick with it. Eventually mother and son are forced to separate with Omar taking a boat hopefully to England where his uncle owns a shop.

That journey is hazardous to the extreme and after a massive storm Omar finds himself washed up on Lilliput where the small people hail him as Son of Gulliver. We learn of the story of Gulliver who fixes a feud between the Lilliputians and the people of the island of Blufescu. Things are still not right between the two islands and Omar is forced to take action akin to Gulliver.

The novel is full of wisdom and is a quest for peace and understanding between Peoples and Nations. How is this for wisdom? “children don’t mind if you make mistakes. They don’t think anything is wrong with it. They know making mistakes is how you learn”.

But how will it end? If you don’t read this you are mad.

As always Michael Foreman’s illustrations are superb, creating the world of Lilliput perfectly and enhancing a brilliant story for primary, intermediate and junior secondary readers.

Don’t stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham.

July 24, 2018 Comments off

dont stopDon’t stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

I bet that somewhere in the World in this very moment in time, a refugee is wishing that things in their own country were safe and they could return. They will be thinking that people in the country they are in feel threatened by them and resent them being there. They will despair for the future of themselves and their families and friends

This is true of Hafiz a teenager from Syria whose escape to freedom you will read about in this novel. He is lucky to be alive and lucky that he has an aunt and uncle in the UK that can support him. He is a gifted footballer and has aspirations to join the best, but will he be given the opportunity to show his talents and develop the way a UK national would?  Read this novel and find out.

Stevie is a talented guitarist and singer, she is 14 years old and is living with her severely depressed mother who can’t get over the death by violent means of her husband and Stevie’s father. They are living on the breadline and things look hopeless. They have to move on and they need a break. Read it and see if this happens.

Stevie and Hafiz come together at school in a class that has some bullying and less understanding kids, but not all. Their relationship develops, they are good for each other but they are going to be sorely tested.

An excellent novel that examines modern day issues of refugees and mental depression and the effects it has on lives when attitudes of hatred and lack of understanding are to the fore.

This book could have drifted into  a state of sentimentality but it doesn’t. You feel for both Hafiz and Stevie and their chances in life in a hostile world. Their story is as common as life itself and the message is, things have got to change!!

Written in short chapters consecutively by Stevie and Hafiz which makes it very easy to read in short bursts but if you are like me you will keep reading long after your eyes are drooping onto the page.

A story for readers in the intermediate to young adult age group. Adults will get reward from it too. But be warned there will be tears.

The Day the War Came by Nicola Davies, illus. Rebecca Cobb.

May 25, 2018 Comments off

day war cameThe Day the War Came by Nicola Davies, illus. Rebecca Cobb. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

This is one of the most powerful and moving picture books I have ever read and you will be moved too.

It is narrated by a little girl who wears the same clothes from beginning to end. It starts with family happiness around the breakfast table, moves to school where the little girl is learning about volcanoes, drawing birds and singing about tadpoles turning into frogs.

Then the war comes in a devastating series of images that has the little girls home and town bombed to the stone age. Her journey to a safe haven follows but the war comes with her in her mind and in the attitudes of the people she encounters.

She is eventually refused entry to a school because there isn’t a chair for her, but as is usually the case children come to the rescue. Read it and find out how.

Rebecca Cobb’s illustrations are stunning especially the coming of the war, helicopters in the sky, the bomb crater of the little girls home. Then on the journey away lonely shoes on the beach.

The written text will make you cry. The repeated school scene is powerful.


Trouble Tomorrow by Terry Whitebeach & Sarafino Enadio

January 24, 2017 Comments off

trouble-tomorrowTrouble Tomorrow by Terry Whitebeach & Sarafino Enadio. Pub.Allen&Unwin, 2017.

This is the harrowing story of 15 year old Obulejo and his 5 year journey from his homeland in South Sudan to Australia. It is based on a true story and will give the reader an understanding of the hardship, violence and mistreatment that many refugees go through to arrive in the safety of our country.

Obulejo is a beautiful person whose name means Trouble Tomorrow the title of this book but I think he has had his fair share of trouble already and deserves better. If you met Obulejo in the circumstances in which he finds himself in, then you would be a lucky person indeed.

Born in a South Sudan village that had English as it’s educational language and christianity as it’s belief. The South had rich agricultural land and oil. This was desired by the largely Muslim North with it’s Sharia Law and war broke out. There were two wars the first ended in 1972 when I traveled south from Egypt to Juba and Malakal into Zaire. The people were lovely and it surprised me that the second war from 1983 to 2005 was such a brutal barbaric affair. It’s still going on.

Obulejo’s flight in the face of rebel advancement mirrors 100’s of thousands of others who did not survive. The wars cost over 2 million lives with thousands more in refugee camps. Life in a refugee camp is also a feature of this book.

For high school students and young adults but prepare for some harrowing brutality and some numbing humanity. The treatment of children will make you weep.

Rubies in the Dust, Voices from Afghanistan Curated by Tariq Habibyar, Retold by Heather McQuillan.

January 11, 2016 Comments off

rubies dustRubies in the Dust, Voices from Afghanistan Curated by Tariq Habibyar, Retold by Heather McQuillan. Pub.

In 1971 I had the privilege of traveling through Afghanistan as part of my overland trip from UK to new Zealand. I found it a peaceful and private place and stayed one night in the town of Herat across the border from Iran, where the stories in this book are set

These stories mean something to me and I hope they mean something to you. There are six stories all told by children who have grown all their lives with war in their home country causing many Afghanis to become refugees in all parts of the World.

These stories all retold by Heather McQuillan after being collected by Tariq Habibyar are all very moving and show the bravery, the resilience, the suffering and the imagination of children living under hostile conditions.

The resilience and dedication of the boys to their families survival and the unbelievable bad treatment of girls is a sad indictment on the Taliban and the strict rule they enforced. The hope given to all Afghanis by the defeat of the Taliban is also reflected in theses stories.

The stories are suitable for primary, intermediate and high school students. Support this book if you can


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While we Run by Karen Healey.

January 10, 2015 Comments off

while we runWhile we Run by Karen Healey. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2014. This YA novel is sequel to When We Wake the story of Tegan who was cryonically preserved after being shot in 2027 only to wake up in a different Australia 100 years later.

In the earlier book Tegan and some others including Abdi the handsome boy from Djibouti who narrates this novel, expose the Ark Project, a Government scheme to cryonically freeze refugees and ship them off to another planet with the promise of a better life.

After being caught the Government control Tegan and Abdi by torture and make them put a positive spin on the Ark Project and as we found in NZ with the Nicky Hagar book Dirty Politics, people are prepared to abandon truth in favour of a comforting falsehood. This is one of the themes in this novel.

The second major theme is the role of violence in achieving political ends even when it is for the right reasons. Tegan, Abdi and the group of rebels who want to expose the evils of the government agonise with some relish the collateral damage associated with getting the truth out. Does the end justify the means?

Tegan and Abdi have been tortured and need to get over this and also sort their feelings out for each other. I will let you decide how well they do this, but things are resolved and all the loose ends tied up and I guess some will think it is well done others may not be so sure.

I found the book a serious work on serious issues. The question of cryonics is handled well although I am not sure of the science. Karen Healey maintains the action, including the all Australian bushfire, to keep the reader interested and of course the Tegan/Abdi romance provides another sideline. Read it and see if you agree.

Refugees and global warming are other important issues. Its worth a read.

Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French

June 16, 2012 Comments off

Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French. Pub. Angus&Robertson, 2012. 

Georg is a German boywho grew up in Hitlers German with anti Jewish sentiments and a love of his country.

What he didn’t know is that his English born father was a Jew. At a school prize giving members of a Nazi youth movement expose the father and throw him off a balcony to his death.

Georg and his German mother escape and his mother arranges for his flight out of Germany packed in a suitcase to France then England. He changes his name to George and sets about losing his German accent to become and English boy.

He experiences the blitz and is then shipped to Australia to be adopted by an Australin family.

Such children were called the “lost Children” and many had miserable lives but not George. Dinkum Aussie farmers the Peaslakes and a girl called Mud help him settle.

But as the war worsens he feels guilty. He is a German and therefore the enemy.

Great story, well written with a positive ending. Primary and Intermediate readers.

Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

October 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Shadow by Michael Morpurgo. Pub.HarperCollins, 2010.

A lovely story this but then all Michael Morpurgo novels are lovely. This one is very current as it concerns the conflict in Afghanistan with the Taliban.

As always there is an animal in the story playing a crucial role. This time it is a Springer Spaniel named Shadow but as we find out later in the story, her real name is Polly.

Matt is a young English boy who has a friend from Afghanistan called Aman. When Aman and his mother are taken to Yarls Wood detention Centre with a view to being deported back to Afghanistan, Matt enlists the help of his ex journalist grandfather to help out.

What evolves is a story that can apply to many of the world’s refugees who have been through extreme hardship, will be killed if they return to their home country and who are not wanted by the country they seek refugee status in.

Set in Bamiyan Province where the Taliban destroyed those magnificient statues of Bubbha, thankfully I saw them in the 1970’s and they were incredible. The New Zealand contingent in Afghanistan are working in Bamiyan.

Add in a dog who Aman and his family befriend, a dog not found normally in Afghanistan and one who the locals condemn as a “foreign dog”. This dog has a history and becomes crucial to the outcome of this story.

Great story that will help children get an insight to a world wide problem of refugees. We are all human beings aren’t we?

Suitable middle to Intermediate school, but it is such a good yarn older kids would love it too.