Illustrated by Barroux
Published by Otter-Barry Books, Great Britain, 2020
I really love the profound simplicity of this picture book. It reminds me of that old acronym KISS…Keep It Simple Stupid. How often do we find ourselves tied up in knots over difficult issues and delicate emotions? Sometimes we just need to peel back the layers of heavy expectations, cultural norms and complex legalities. Sometimes we just need to be human, show empathy, put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, try to imagine what their journey is like and be kind.
On one level, this picture book is a counting journey, exploring how numbers can be found in everyone’s everyday life and that is a simple connection we all share and experience, despite religion, culture or geography.
On another level, this picture book is a poetic unravelling of how kindness works, reminding and teaching us processes that we may have forgotten, infrequently practised or never been taught.
It starts with a family fleeing their homeland because it has become too scary to live there anymore. Starting with one boat, we follow their journey across the seas and into a new land, relying on the kindness of strangers and friends to help them adapt to a new life.
Meals provide sustenance and give energy, beds allow rest and warmth, books are the gateway to learning and knowledge, gifts suggest that you are in someone’s thoughts and speak of generous hearts, and finally friendship…sharing a journey is so much better when you add others to your life.
The evocative illustrations beautifully enhance the sparse text and at the end we are encouraged to reflect on how we can be kind to one another and to realise there are many millions of children who have become refugees, running away from war and persecution. On the end paper at the back of the picture book, there are the names and contact details of organisations that help refugees and migrants.
I can highly recommend this picture book for children 4-8 years, and below I have included more suggestions about picture books which explore the themes of empathy and kindness: