Stepping stones by Margriet Ruurs

cover image

Ill. by Nazar Ali Badr. UQP, 2017. ISBN 9780702259739
(Age: 5 - Adult) Recommended. Refugees, Syria, Arabic, Sculpture. A worthy addition to the range of books about refugees with which to engage children, Stepping stones, will delight younger readers with its parallel text in Arabic, its amazing illustrations and concise story, best read aloud. With others like Out (Angela George, 2016) Teacup (Rebecca Young, 2016), Suri's wall (Lucy Estela, 2016), Flight (Nadia Wheatley, 2015) and My two blankets (Irena Kobald, 2014), a class set of books about refugees would be the richer for their inclusion, allowing children to pick out and read several books, or work with a class using these books to reflect the story of refugees today.
Stepping stones is unique however in its depiction of the people fleeing their homes. The illustrator, Nizar Ali Badr, a sculptor, works from his home in Latakia in Syria, and the author, having seen one of his stone pictures on the internet was propelled into writing a story to match the image. It would be intriguing to present the images to a group of children to write their own story, they are so graphic and detailed, that I am sure they will understand the story without hesitation.
Canadian author Ruurs, presents the story of this family whose love holds them together, finally finding a place of refuge where they are welcomed. Canada stands like a beacon of humanity in our world today.
The parallel text in Arabic is beautiful, the calligraphy a standout and will intrigue children as they look at the wonderful script, wanting to know more. I can imagine classes using this book as part of a discussion about refugees, allowing children to read it for themselves and share it with others, along with the stories depicted above. I can imagine children trying out the stone images for themselves, or trying to write script in Arabic. All their efforts will bring them to a closer understanding of the issue of refugees through one child's story.
Fran Knight