Award-Winning Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Picture Books Reading Themes Voices From The Fringe: Social Justice

[Monday Reading] Borderless Skies Wherever One Goes in Diverse Picturebooks

"A Sky Without Lines" by Krystia Basil and Laura Borras | "Wherever I Go" by Mary Wagley Copp and Munir D. Mohammed.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

These two diverse narratives depict the experiences of young children who are uprooted from their homes and loved ones, surfacing voices from the fringe, befitting our current reading theme.

A Sky Without Lines [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Krystia Basil Illustrated by Laura Borras
Published by Minedition (2019)
ISBN: 9888341898 (ISBN13: 9789888341894). Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

I have always been a fan of Laura Borras’ art, having read and reviewed her Marwan’s Journey written by Patricia De Arias (Amazon | Book Depository). When I learned that she has another book out, I made sure that I grabbed a copy of it. While similar in theme to Marwan’s Journey, this book focuses more on the arbitrary line drawn between brothers Arturo and Antonio – quite reminiscent of the Mexico border in the United States:

.. his mother told Arturo the lines on the map were drawn to stop people from moving freely across the land.

This made Arturo sad.

Because Arturo and his mother were on one side of a line and his father and Antonio were stuck on the other side.

While Arturo dreams of reuniting with his brother, he imagines swimming across seas, creating a bridge, or building a tunnel in order for him to transcend the barriers symbolized by these lines on the map – all the while wondering why such lines had to exist in the first place.

While poignant, it has an optimistic tone throughout. Evidently, reunion among families who are torn apart by immigration policies, chance or circumstance, is not easily achieved – yet this story managed to move me with all its earnest intentions.

Wherever I Go [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written By Mary Wagley Copp Illustrated by Munir D. Mohammed
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2020)
ISBN: 1534419195 (ISBN13: 9781534419193) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

Abia is one of the young children who had been in the Shimelba Camp the longest: seven years, four months, and sixteen days to be precise. She feels that this is sufficient justification for crowning her Queen of the Camp – and her father agrees as evident in the acacia crown he wove especially for her. While she may remember very little from the time before the camp, Abia has made this makeshift place her little kingdom.

There is cheerful defiance here in the face of obvious difficulties – she took on the chores that a Queen does with a competitive spirit and with aplomb and humor ringed in tragedy. I love how this story highlights the complexity of the refugee experience – neither dramatizing nor exoticizing Abia’s character whose direct gaze, confident stance, and unflappable dignity came through for the reader to connect with.

While there is clear recognition that her family is searching for a “forever home” and will eventually have to move to a different place, this Queen knows that once in her life, she ruled this little space with her drum, her acacia crown, and her loud voice that blends with the howling hyenas in the wilderness.

It was also very interesting to read the Author’s Note. Mary Wagley Copp based Abia’s story on her documentary film project about refugee resettlement in Northern Ethiopia. She has tempered Abia’s story that ultimately ended in a happy note with other not too ideal narratives based on what she has observed.

The statistics she shared was especially sobering:

How many people live in your city? In your state? In your state? In your country? Now think about the number sixty-eight million. That’s the estimate for how many displaced people there are in our world. About twenty-five million of them are classified as refugees, and half of all refugees are children. Less than one percent of refugees are resettled.

Now let’s all think about that number before we fall snugly to sleep in our comfortable beds later this evening. Abia remains smiling at us from the book cover. This is a book that I hope will find its way into your hands sooner than later.

#ReadIntl2020 Update: 41 (out of target 30): Ghana (Munir Mohammed is originally from Ghana but now based in the US);

Krystia Basil is from Chennai India but now based in the US, Laura Borras is from Spain.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

2 comments on “[Monday Reading] Borderless Skies Wherever One Goes in Diverse Picturebooks

  1. Completely Full Bookshelf

    These books look beautiful, and they tackle some important topics! The statistic you share is sobering—I had no idea the number of displaced people in the world was roughly a fourth of the number of people in the entire US. Thank you for the great reviews of these important stories!


  2. Pingback: [My 2020 in Books] Favourite Books Read in 2020 – Gathering Books

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