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Two children, drawn in black & white, wear brightly coloured masks. They lean against a barred fence.

by Erika Meza

 

Longlisted Little Rebels Award 2024

 

“The rules of the game are simple,” my sister said.

“Avoid the monsters.”

“Don’t get caught.”

“And keep moving.”

 

A child and his older sister put on colourful masks, leave home and embark on a journey. The older sister explains that the masks are to hide them and that it’s all part of a game. They walk, they catch a bus, travel on a raft and perch precariously on top of a train carriage. The landscapes they traverse are full of dark shadows with fangs and claws, oozing towards them. And, as the journey stretches ahead of them, seemingly forever, the young boy realises this is no game. At last, they see a border, a final line to cross, but what will greet them on the other side?

 

A ‘proper’ picture book where text and art tune into and expand each other’s interpretations, seemingly effortlessly. The monochrome palette, sparked by masks and shapes in yellows/oranges/mauves, works wonderfully to evoke the peril, the bleakness and also the optimism of those seeking asylum. A truly memorable imagining of a child refugee’s experience. 

 

Inspired by the US/Mexican border and the inhumane US separation policy, the book also offers a stark, universal, metaphor. The author’s back note gives the context of the 13 million child refugees currently in the world and quotes from their own conversations with child refugees. A very rich classroom resource.  Age 4-8, Hardback 32pp

 

Themes: Refugees and Migration

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SKU: 3341
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