The author came upon the art work of the Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr on the internet and, as a note at the end of the book explains, “saw the opportunity to both raise funds to help Syrian refugees and bring the work of Mr. Badr to a wider audience.”
Thus she created this story about a Syrian family that decides to leave their home “in search of a place to be free, to live and laugh, to love again. In search of a place where bombs did not fall, where people did not die on their way to market.”
They walked and walked, and “at last we came to our future.” This family was considered to be one of the lucky ones. They have “new memories, new hopes, new dreams. Not of war, but of peace.”
The story is told in both English and Arabic. At the end of the book, there is information on both the author and the illustrator, and a list of ideas for what people in North America can do to make a difference.
The book reports that Ali Badr lives in a relatively safe area by the seashore near the ancient port city of Ugarit. He spends much of time roaming the beach, gathering stones, and bringing them home to his rooftop studio. You can watch a video below showing how he constructs his images.
Evaluation: The text isn’t perhaps as compelling as it could be, but it is dwarfed in any event by the amazing artwork. Who would have imagined anyone could convey so much, including emotions, through stones?
Published by Orca Books, 2016