Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Review - Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey
by Margriet Ruurs
illustrated by Nizar Ali Badr
Date: 2016
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 28
Format: e-book
Source: library

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children's writer Margriet Ruurs. The author was immediately impressed by the strong narrative quality of Mr. Badr's work, and, using many of Mr. Badr's already-created pieces, she set out to create a story about the Syrian refugee crisis. Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe. Nizar Ali Badr's stunning stone images illustrate the story. Orca Book Publishers is pleased to offer this book as a dual-language (English and Arabic) edition.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I don't think I've ever read a picture book quite like this one. A collaboration between a Canadian author and a Syrian artist, Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey is a picture book that takes a sensitive look at the plight of ordinary families who are forced to flee their homes due to war.

The illustrations are all created with stones and then photographed. Somehow, the artist manages to create living, breathing pictures with rocks that show a family's journey to freedom and safety. Each picture on its own is beautiful enough, but, put all together with the simple but poignant story, this turns into a book that's really a work of art.

I might exercise caution giving a book like this to very young children, as there is one depiction of little stone people who perished in the sea. It might be a little too much for small children, but ones who are old enough to understand the dangers facing these families can see how perilous a journey it is for some. (It's not graphic, really, but it is disturbing when you realize what those stones are depicting.)

Overall, I think this is a very strong picture book about an important topic. Something like this can help foster understanding and empathy. I'd definitely recommend it.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 3.83 out of 5

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