Sunday, May 3, 2020
"The Refuge" - Written by Sandra le Guen, Illustrated by Stéphane Nicolet
Rather masterfully, this picture book for young children tackles the difficult subject of refugees in a way that is clear, accessible, and filled with heart and humanity.
In the book, a young Jeanette tells her mom about a new girl in school with an enthusiastic child-like wonder that explains "“There’s a new girl at school. She never stops looking up at the sky! She likes the stars and comets.” Jeanette immediately identifies common ground - the two love astronomy, though is quick to note to her mother that this new girl looks sad.
Explaining that it is difficult to move to a new place, Jeanette's mother encourages her to reach out to this new girl and offer to play.
A friendship is born.
At 36 pages in length, "The Refuge" is a quick but incredibly enjoyable read with lyrical linguistics and deep, meaningful language that is accessible yet invites opportunities to learn just as Jeanette learns from her new friend, Iliana. At first having to use their hands and drawings to understand one another as Iliana learns French, le Guen beautifully portrays Iliana's journey toward adjusting to her new home and the journey of two young girls discovering new friendship.
As Jeanette learns Iliana's story, a beautiful story of cultural understanding and empathy unfolds that is accompanied by Stéphane Nicolet's magical illustrations that weave together a sense of whimsy and universality.
Originally published in France, "The Refuge" arrives in the U.S. on June 1st with Amazon Crossing Kids and will enchant children and adults alike. It's easy to see this lovely story being a bedside addition that will be read again and again.
Richard Propes is an award-winning writer/activist/minister who has traveled over 6,000 miles by wheelchair over the past 30 years raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for children's organizations on his acclaimed Tenderness Tour events. Author of "The Hallelujah Life," Richard is the founder/publisher of TheIndependentCritic.com and has been the recipient of numerous awards for his activism including Indiana's Sagamore of the Wabash, Kentucky's Order of Kentucky Colonels, and Prevent Child Abuse America's highest honor, the Donna J. Stone Award. Richard is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association.