Angela May George (text), Owen Swan (illus), Out, Scholastic Australia, 1 June 2016, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781743629000
This is the story of an unnamed girl and her mother fleeing by boat from their home to another country. They face danger during their escape and their long boat voyage. They find safety and security living in a flat with another woman from the boat. Helping each other to settle, learn a new language and new customs, they miss their father and husband and wait for his arrival. Written in first person from the viewpoint of the young girl, the well-worked verbal text of this picture book is both succinct and moving.
“I’m called an asylum seeker, but that’s not my name. I’ve seen horrible things, and they’ve shown me what it is to be brave. Brave is waiting and believing in your heart that everything will be okay.”
The illustrations take this book to another level. Working with the verbal text, they are full of feeling and emotion. The use of colour, texture, and perspective are unique and entrancing. The thick black lines of the sea, for instance, when the reader looks down on the boat, evoke darkness and fear. The yellow ribbon from the front cover is seen throughout as it is used as a hair ribbon, fishing line, toy and teaching aid. The soft rounded figures of the characters are exceptional, inducing emotion and mood.
This is an important addition to the topic of asylum seekers represented in children’s and young adult literature. Highly recommended for school and public libraries.
Reviewed by Liz Derouet