Lubna and Pebble
by Meddour, Wendy; Egnéus, Daniel (ILT)

An evocative tribute to the refugee crisis and the power of friendship finds a little girl enduring hardships in a World of Tents by sharing stories and confidences with her best friend, a pebble, before realizing that a lost young newcomer needs the pebble even more. By the author of the Wendy Quill series.

Wendy Meddour's debut children's book, A Hen in the Wardrobe, was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award for Outstanding First Novel. Wendy is also the author of the Wendy Quill series, which have been translated into over 10 languages. She lives in England.

Daniel Egneus is a Swedish artist who recently illustrated Neil Gaiman's American Gods Quartet as well as the picture books Raven Child and the Snow Witch and The Thing. Daniel lives in Athens, Greece.

*Starred Review* Some children have security blankets, some have teddy bears, others have invisible friends. Lubna has Pebble. It is telling that this child would rely on so ordinary and ubiquitous an object for comfort: she has nothing else. Before we can wonder why a little girl's best friend is a pebble, we learn that she found it when she and her father arrived in a World of Tents. Night skies make silhouettes of the hulls of boats that dwarf tiny Lubna on the beach from where she and her father make their way to their new tent home. The fact that they are refugees might be lost on the youngest readers as this significant fact is only subtly conveyed in the text. But a quiet sense of loss pervades the story and is amplified when another small child, Amir, arrives. Close-up renderings of Lubna's face, her father's strong arms, and Amir's drooped shoulders convey the weight of trauma the children carry. Yet there is also a tenderness and optimism in their playful delight and shared love of Pebble. A warm palette of indigo and ocher, with occasional blasts of glowing orange and red, mirrors the cocoon of security that the children build for each other. Lubna and Pebble is a timely story of displacement, loss, friendship, and kindness-universal messages with timeless appeal. Grades K-2. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Lubna navigates the challenges of being a refugee: keeping happy—or rather, surviving—and passing the courage on. She arrives with her dad as refugees to their temporary home, "a World of Tents," with no visible toys and perhaps nothing at all. Lubna latches onto a pebble she finds on the beach after their crowded boat arrives at the shore. After this find, she "clutched Daddy's hand and gripped her pebble. Somehow, she knew they'd keep her safe." The larger-than-life, almost dreamy illustrations show readers what Lubna sees and feels, and the rawness of both text and images penetrates the heart. Lubna and Pebble become best friends, and she and her lovingly understanding father even create a nice home for it to face the cold winter, a shoebox with a tea towel. Then she meets another friend, Amir, a little boy who is alone. "This is my best friend, Pebble," Lubna says. Amir smiles, and together they play under the stars, the illustrations taking on jewel tones th at contrast their imaginary play with the drabness of the refugee camp. When Lubna hears the happy news about resettlement to a better place, she is first happy, then sad about leaving Amir behind. She makes a hard and selfless decision that night, to share her treasure with her young friend who needs to hang on. Lubna, her father, and Amir have olive skin and dark hair; their circumstances hint at Syrian origins, but no country is named. A true celebration of the endless creativity and resilience of children. (Picture book. 5-12) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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