Thursday, September 5, 2019

Review - The Red Suitcase

The Red Suitcase
by Giles Baum
illustrated by Amandine Piu
Date: 2019
Publisher: words & pictures
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 42
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

A beautiful and touching journey of one little dragon fleeing a home that has become dangerous and finding refuge in a new place and with new friends.

The Red Suitcase is a simple and allegorical story with evocative illustrations and minimal text depicting the plight of refugees. From the unrest they leave behind, the treacherous journey they undertake, the fear they are met with, and finally the acceptance and helping hand that is, and should always, be offered to them. The Red Suitcase tells this story in its simplest form in a way that young children can understand and enjoy as one of friendship and acceptance.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I can only rate what I can see. Unfortunately, my digital ARC is a mess and missing half of the illustrations. What I did see of them, I liked; I just wish I'd been able to see all of them (especially since this book is light on text and uses the pictures to tell much of the story).

While I appreciate the intent behind this book, I'm not sure if little kids will understand that it's supposed to be about refugees. Again, like so many picture books I've read lately, this one seems to be aimed more at adults than children. We're introduced to a small dragon who's surrounded by scribbly flames (representing danger in their homeland, I guess) and a simply drawn red suitcase. The story is told with the second-person point of view, which is unusual for a picture book, and even more so in this case. (Is this intended for refugee children? Or is it supposed to be for their peers to help them understand the situation?) It looks like the dragon goes on a journey, although I can't really say for sure; those illustrations were some of the ones that were missing. Eventually, they end up in a new land at a new school, where they make a friend.

(On an unrelated note, why is the author's name spelled differently in the book than in all of the material online? Which is it? Gilles or Giles?)

It's hard to say if I would've liked this one any more if I'd been able to see all the pictures, but I don't know that I would've rated it much higher, since I'm not sure if the story's message is clear enough. It might work as more of an allegory, but if children are supposed to understand that the dragon and their journey represent the plight of refugees in our world, it might be asking a little too much.

Thank you to NetGalley and words & pictures for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.5 out of 5

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