There are many books that detail the struggles that child refugees face and this book by Mike Dumbleton and Hannah Sommerville is a brilliant addition with a very unique approach.
Anisa was like any child, she lived in a happy home and enjoyed spending time with her family. But then the bombs came and that changed everything. Forced to flee with only the things that she and her family could carry, they began a journey. A journey to where, they did they not know. A journey they did not want to make but had no choice but to make. This is Anisa’s story…
Anisa takes readers on a journey through the alphabet as she details how her life has gone from happy home to a child with no sense of place or belonging. Her journey starts with, “A is for Anisa Alidurahn.” Living in a happy family home, children and adults sit around the table enjoying a game together. This fleeting moment of happiness is quickly ended as B is for bombs and so the journey of another child displaced by war and conflict begins. Anisa escapes war torn streets, endures the sweltering heat of a tented camp, survives a perilous boat journey before arriving at the border. There is no happy ending, Anisa - like so many refugees - is left dreaming and hoping for a better future.
All of this action unfolds in an unknown country and Anisa journeys across unknown lands to unknown places. The lack of place does not matter, this story could be that of any child refugee from anywhere in the world. Anisa tells her own story as she works through the alphabet and the rhyming prose are poignant and thought-provoking. The illustrations are dark and grey and really present a bleak and miserable journey, the stand-out moments of colour are provided by Anisa’s drawings that are full of colour and radiate her positive outlook and hopes for a better life.
Anisa’s Alphabet is a superb choice for many reasons. Any book that explores the plight of refugees and raises the issues that they face is definitely worth reading and told from a child’s perspective we really get a look into Anisa’s world and see how life can change in an instant. The book would prompt many important discussions and would be a great way to develop empathy and understanding about the refugee crisis.
Recommended for 7+.