Review Blog

May 30 2018

The Mediterranean by Armin Greder

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760630959
(Age: 12-18) Recommended. "After he had finished drowning, his body sank slowly to the bottom, where the fish were waiting."
This is the opening and only sentence by the author, in the book. Profoundly disturbing, the words lead immediately to the next page, where a lifeless body sinks to the bottom of the Mediterranean Ocean to be nibbled by the fish. The charcoal drawings begin the emotional journey that continues throughout the book.
The fish in turn are consumed by detached militants who with weapons and fear drive refugees to take drastic steps, boarding dangerous boats. Their refugee journey completes the story's cycle.
This is a strong and no holds barred look at the atrocities of warfare and refugees. Armin Greder's illustrations show a colourless and bleak world where people's lives are not valued and where human beings become food for the fishes.
The afterword by Alessandro Leogrande, a journalist and social, political and environmental writer discusses the refugee issue and highlights the 12,000 refugee deaths that have occurred in the Mediterranean Ocean in the last three years. He grieves that the human story of each death is lost and that the " . . . enormous heap of lifeless bodies is constantly kept from our eyes, and from our thoughts".
Richard Noury, the spokesperson for Amnesty International, explains his reaction to Greder's story on the back cover and comments how the Mediterranean is " . . . a mass grave: . . . a story of silence, one with no protagonists."
We the readers are like the real world, silent witnesses to the plight of the refugees.
This is a picture book for secondary school students but with empathy and adult support could be used with upper primary children. The Mediterranean evokes discussion and comment and will encourage a conversation about an issue that is often highlighted in the Australian media.
Armin Greder is an award-winning picture book author and illustrator who has already made us examine our beliefs in The Island. His latest book will continue the discussion about human rights and refugees.
I recommend this book to 12 - 18 year olds+.
Jane Moore

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