In her stunning first picture book the author/illustrator Francesca Sanna has drawn on the experiences she heard about from recent refugees from many countries. The text in this book is easy to read in terms of vocabulary and sentence structure and this apparent simplicity combined with the memorable illustrations have great power to move readers of all ages. Each spread features a carefully chosen colour palette, depicting the variety of landscapes, real and emotional, through which a family passes, escaping conflict and seeking sanctuary.
The pictures are all so striking, it’s hard to choose which to highlight, but for emotional power the twin images of the mother encircling her children for protection in the darkness of the forest will linger long in the mind. On the left hand page they are all awake and gazing at each other. On the right page, the child’s words ‘But mother is with us and she is never scared’ belie the image of the mother’s tears cascading down as her children sleep. Images of the natural world permeate the book, one of the most delightful pictures being of a variety of birds migrating, causing the narrator to consider that they do not have to cross borders as people do. The book ends on a hopeful note but makes it clear that most refugees live with continued uncertainty, even when they hope they have reached a place of safety.