What Is a Refugee?
by Gravel, Elise






Explains who refugees are, why they had to leave their homes, why they are not always welcomed elsewhere, and how they are similar to everyone else.





Elise Gravel is an award-winning author-illustrator from Quebec. She studied graphic design at Le Collège d'Enseignement Général et Professional and has since published numerous picture books including La clé à molette (La Courte Échelle Publishers), which won the Governor General's Literary Award for illustration. She is inspired by social causes and lives in Montreal with her husband and two children. Visit her online at www.elisegravel.com/en and follow her on Twitter (@EliseGravel) and Instagram (elise_gravel).





Using simple, direct text, Gravel explains what a refugee is, the reasons these individuals leave their countries of origin, and the steps they must follow in order to find safety and regain a normal life. Throughout, she emphasizes that refugees are people "just like you and me." War, political instability, and prejudices can disrupt lives, forcing people to flee to refugee camps, where they must wait until a new country will accept them. Gravel's cartoon art is used to great effect here. Bold lines, saturated colors, and expressive faces serve to emphasize the human cost of displacement. Gravel's strength is her ability to humanize this topic without resorting to sensationalism. Both art and text avoid specific details about individual lives before or in the camps, but scenes of burning buildings, barbed wire, and tent cities make clear that the life of a refugee is difficult. Appended interviews with displaced children and mini-biographies of famous refugees add to the appeal of this essential title for promoting understanding of the refugee perspective. Grades K-3. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.





Using simple, direct text, Gravel explains what a refugee is, the reasons these individuals leave their countries of origin, and the steps they must follow in order to find safety and regain a normal life. Throughout, she emphasizes that refugees are people "just like you and me." War, political instability, and prejudices can disrupt lives, forcing people to flee to refugee camps, where they must wait until a new country will accept them. Gravel's cartoon art is used to great effect here. Bold lines, saturated colors, and expressive faces serve to emphasize the human cost of displacement. Gravel's strength is her ability to humanize this topic without resorting to sensationalism. Both art and text avoid specific details about individual lives before or in the camps, but scenes of burning buildings, barbed wire, and tent cities make clear that the life of a refugee is difficult. Appended interviews with displaced children and mini-biographies of famous refugees add to the appeal of this essential title for promoting understanding of the refugee perspective. Grades K-3. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.





A straightforward and simple introduction to what being a refugee means, accompanied by glimpses into real refugees' lives. Sensibly depicted throughout the book as people of varying skin tones; with black, brown, blond, or red hair; of young or old age; and with or without glasses, headscarves, or facial hair, refugees are portrayed and described as "just like you and me." They've been forced to flee their homes on account of danger, although many would have preferred to stay with friends and family, and are described as fortunate if they find a new country where they can live unremarkable lives. Gravel describes war, oppression, and discrimination as reasons to flee one's country, but she misses natural disasters and environmental degradation as other potential reasons, and despite her repeated emphasis that refugees are "just like" readers, she highlights the stereotypical circumstance of refugee camps. The book ends with an engaging collection of portrayals of refugees: children from different countries speaking about their favorite things, followed by famous refugee women and men from around the world. Readers may find the single sentence that some countries "don't want to welcome more refugees" inadequate. The emphasis on "more refugees" has the potential of shifting the conversation away from justice for refugees to justifying racist exclusionary policies. A good introduction with unfortunate missed potential. (Informational picture book. 8-10) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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