- Story Boat by Kyo Maclear
Maclear, Kyo Story Boat; illus. by Rashin Kheiriyeh. Tundra, 2020 [32p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-7352-6359-8 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-7352-6360-4 $10.99 Reviewed from galleys R 4-7 yrs
A brother and sister, refugees on the move on foot, by car, and by sea along with their family, are "here," but the concept of "here" has a loose definition for them: "Here is just here." Together, they create stories, in which "here" refers to their imaginary life, wherein a teacup serves as a boat, a blanket as a sail, a lamp as a lighthouse, and a flower as a ladder. "Here is our journey," our narrators say, as reality flashes and a crying baby is passed to an inflatable lifeboat full of frowning adults. The poetic nature of the text would make for a satisfyingly rhythmic readaloud ("Every morning,/ As things keep changing,/ We sit wherever we are / And sip, sip, sip"). Kheiriyeh's swishing, crayon-like lines form dreamy waves with painted oil and acrylic interiors on which the refugee siblings sail on their imaginary cup-boat, and each page effectively contrasts saturated orange tones against a diluted slatey blue. While the children smile as they write and draw, the expressions of others in the camps and boats reveal the true harsh nature of their voyage. This book may require some explanation for kids, but its underlying optimism makes it an effective soft introduction to the refugee crisis.