by Eoin Colfer
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
A very timely story about contemporary illegal immigration and refugees, this book tells the fictional story of Ebo, who runs away from his alcoholic uncle to follow his brother, who is following their sister, to Europe. Ebo’s gift is that he can sing, and he uses this to earn money and favors from others along his way. The story is told in flashbacks; “then” is when he realizes that Kwame is gone too and “now” is when they are together on a raft in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.
For kids who have heard of refugees, especially crossing the Mediterranean from Africa, this will explain what their lives are like, why they make the decision to leave, and how hard it can be to make the journey. (It’s not explicit where Ebo is from, but supposedly Niger, from the city of Agadez near the beginning of the story.) It’s alternately devastating and hopeful, and the extra bits at the end (“end matter” in libraryspeak), such as a map of Ebo’s journey, a note from the creators, and a real refugee’s story, help give context to the narrative.
Scary Stuff Happening in Boats like: Refugee by Alan Gratz