Del Rizzo, Suzanne. My Beautiful Birds. Pajama Press, 2017. $17.95. ISBN 9781772780109. Unpaged. Ages 6-10. P8Q9
This is a gorgeous book that had me in tears- it captures the fear and grief felt by a Syrian child refugee living in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. The realities of life for some 80,000 people living there (July 2016) are uniquely communicated illustrated in brilliantly colored polymer clay and mixed media. The story is told through the eyes of a little boy named Sami. At home in Syria, Sami kept pigeons and as he and his family flee the war and find shelter in Jordan, he is grief stricken about their losses, including the loss of his beautiful birds. He doesn’t want to participate in school or play, and when he tries to paint his birds, the beautiful colors turn to black. Eventually Sami begins to recover and is able to help a new refugee child by befriending her. There is an author’s note giving some background on the war in Syria and the particular refugee camp, and a website with further information. This link shows what the camp looks like: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-23801200. VERDICT: This is a must for all public and school libraries. The refugee situation will only get worse with time, and we need to educate ourselves and our kids about it.
March 2017 review by Carol Schramm.