Wisp by Zana Fraillon
Ill. by Grahame Baker-Smith. Lothian, 2018. ISBN 9780734418043
(Age: all) Recommended. Themes: Hope, Courage. Subtitled A story of hope, this tale of finding hope within the soulless confines of a refugee camp will melt the hardest of hearts. Idris is a young boy who has spent his entire life in such a camp, where hope has been eaten away by the years spent behind wire fences.
Adult memories have been erased by time, eroded by the lack of hope. They are alone. One day a wisp flies in at Idris' feet. He picks it up and wipes the dust from it, holding it in his hands. He takes it to an old man who in holding the wisp, recalls things from his past. The simple word, once, recalling for him memories that had been lost within the confines of the refugee camp. The following night he takes the wisp to a woman whose memories come flooding back, and in this way, Idris releases memories throughout the camp, becoming aware of his own sense of wanting to know. Born in the camp, he has nothing to remember, but in holding the wisp he learns the promise of a future, he learns to hope.
This poignant story will tug at readers' emotions as they see a young child, one amongst many, confined in a camp without hope. The wisp he picks up creates a need within him in hoping that his future will hold something more.
The darkly overwhelming illustrations depict the bleak campsite: the rows of tents and makeshift shelters a stark contrast to Idris' hopes at the end of the book, the shadowy people becoming lighter with hope, the cupped hands speaking for the child and his hope for the future.
This is indeed a story of hope, one that will resonate with all readers who stop to remember the twenty million refugees around the world.