Just as Saturday Mornings were reserved for kids on TV programming, Powerful Women Readers reserves Saturday mornings for kids’ book recommendations. Today I am running a bit behind, so here is my recommendation for this weekend:
Gratz’s adventure/thriller novel takes place in three different time settings, with three different protagonists, yet their stories are linked in a clever way at the end.
Joseph, a young Jewish boy, who is thirteen, lives in 1930s’ Nazi Germany. With the threat of capture and concentration camps looming over their heads, Joseph and his family board a ship headed for anywhere in Europe to get away from war-prone Germany. Many countries turn them away, and their voyage is threatened by having to return to Germany, a sure death for them all.
Isabel, a Cuban teenager, lives during the uproar in her native Cuba starting in 1994. She and her family board a make-shift boat, heading for freedom in America. Their misadventures, the delivery of her brother during the trip, and a breath-holding chase by the Coast Guard make for turning pages rapidly.
Mahoumoud, a Syrian young man grows up in war-torn Syria, and his family heads to Europe on foot–heading “anywhere”away from the bombs and carnage. Mahoumoud, near the end of his story, has to take leadership and guide the other children and adults in an arduous walk. His story’s ending shines a light on refugees’ problems in adjusting to their new homes.
All three teens take “harrowing journeys,” coming of age under the most difficult circumstances. In this 2017 publication, the three different protagonists experience “drownings, bombings, and betrayals.” The sacrifices they and their family members are forced to make result in an unlikely feat for all–freedom. Their stories of tragic loss illustrate the “resilience of the human spirit.” Even the format of the book is unique; chapters arrive in cycles of three, and continue each teen’s story (marked by the name of the character and year at the top of each chapter for easy navigation). Refugee is available in audio and has won many awards. I would recommend it for ages 10 (or precocious 8 and 9 year olds) and up.