Beagles and Books is excited to be part of the The Refuge blog tour. Written by Sandra le Guen, illustrated by Stéphane Nicolet, and translated by Daniel Hahn. this picture book is published by Amazon Crossing Kids, an imprint for children’s books in translation. It recently published on June 1, 2020. Special thanks to Amazon Crossing Kids and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
A story about finding refuge in a new friendship and a new home.
“There’s a new girl at school. She never stops looking up at the sky! She likes the stars and comets.”
Jeannette tells her mom about her new classmate, who also loves astronomy but seems sad. She realizes it’s not easy to move to a new place. So the next day, at recess, Jeannette asks Iliana to play.
At first, it’s a little hard to communicate because Iliana is learning a new language. The girls have to use their hands and their drawings. But they keep trying, and, soon, Iliana tells Jeannette about her difficult journey as a refugee who had to leave her country. Then their families meet, and Iliana’s parents share their story too. The girls’ friendship blooms, as limitless as the sky and their imaginations.
Originally published in France and brought to life with wonderfully expressive artwork, this is a book about sharing stories and finding refuge in friendship, family, and a new home.
Teaching theme can be a difficult skill. As a reading specialist, picture books have become a valuable teaching tool to support students’ ability to determine theme. But it is a rare find when a picture book has multiple themes to explore and discuss. The Refuge is one of those rare finds.
The narrator, Jeanette, shows empathy for new student, Iliana. Jeanette is very observant noticing how Iliana never stops looking at the sky and draws meteors and planets, She also is aware that Iliana’s eyes get wet sometimes and her mouth doesn’t smile much. With her mother’s support, Jeanette joins Iliana at recess and a friendship blossoms.
What I love about Jeanette’s and Iliana’s friendship is few words need to be spoken. Drawings, gestures, and facial expressions. especially smiles are their sources of communication. Through their interactions, Iliana tells her family’s courageous boat journey leaving their war-torn country. Their love of astronomy is mutual, for Jeannette enjoys looking through her mom’s telescope and to Iliana, the sky is freedom since there are no borders. After Jeanette’s family extends an invitation, the two families meet where Iliana’s parents share their story of arriving in a new country. That night, the two friends view the night sky together and share their dreams of becoming astronauts.
Praise for The Refuge
“Le Guen, Nicolet, and Hahn tell a powerful tale about refuge and refugees, helping readers make sense of a complex crisis. A great story to help children understand a refugee’s perspective.” —School Library Journal
Meet the Author, Illustrator, and Translator:
Sandra le Guen is the author of numerous picture books and novels in France. She created a photo exhibition around her writing process and her perception of the world: I write, I create? Learn more online at http://www.sandraleguen.blogspot.com.
Stéphane Nicolet was born in Burgundy and still lives in France. He has illustrated many nonfiction titles and is now exploring comics and fiction. He has also written and illustrated a children’s cookbook.
Daniel Hahn is an author, editor, and award-winning translator. His translation of The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007. His translation of A General Theory of Oblivion, also by José Eduardo Agualusa, won the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award. He recently translated Along the Tapajós, written and illustrated by Fernando Vilela. In 2017, Hahn helped establish the TA First Translation Prize, a new prize for debut literary translation. Learn more online at http://www.danielhahn.co.uk.
One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Refuge, courtesy of Amazon Crossing (U.S. addresses only). Fill out the Google form below to enter. This giveaway is open from Friday, June 5 through Sunday, June 12, 2020 ending at 10:00 p.m. EST. Please note that book may take longer to ship so patience is appreciated.