Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey

Publish November 3, 2016

In the dual-language picture book Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey, a young girl and her family leave war-torn Syria for Europe. The journey seems endless and food is scarce, but the hope of finding a place “to be free, to live and laugh, to love again” keeps them moving toward safety. Many do not make it. Those who do remember them, and look forward to new memories, hopes, and dreams. Using carefully arranged stones as his medium, Nizar Ali Badr shows tight-knit families whose love and strength are evident as they hold, lift, and carry one another. Kids will also get a sense of their fear when they flee, arms raised, and of their grief as they plant seeds to commemorate the lost. Margriet Ruurs’ moving words build empathy: “I tried to hold Mama’s hand, but she carried blankets, a bundle of clothes. I carried only memories in my heart,” and, “will this always be home, or will we go back one day?” In the foreword British Columbia-based Ruurs explains that when she first saw Syrian artist Badr’s artwork, she marveled at how such strong emotion could be conveyed through this medium. She asked him to collaborate on a children’s book, and sought a publisher who would donate a portion of the proceeds to resettlement organizations across North America. With Orca Book Publishers’ help, Stepping Stones is now being published in English and Arabic. In addition to exploring the journey of Syrian refugees, the dual-language text is a powerful resource by which Arabic speakers could share their stories with others. Back matter includes a list of aid organizations and their websites.

Jen Bailey
Jen Bailey Jen Bailey is an Ontario-certified teacher who holds an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She works for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. Jen’s other book reviews have appeared in Quill & Quire and Canadian Children’s Book News.

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