The Bone Sparrow
Orion Children's Books (11+)
Born in a refugee camp, all Subhi knows of the world is that he's at least 19 fence diamonds high, the nice Jackets never stay long, and at night he dreams that the sea finds its way to his tent, bringing with it unusual treasures. And one day it brings him Jimmie. Carrying a notebook that she's unable to read and wearing a sparrow made out of bone around her neck Jimmie strikes up an unlikely friendship with Subhi beyond the fence. As he reads aloud the tale of how Jimmie's family came to be, both children discover the importance of their own stories in writing their futures.
Simply and innocently told from a child's perspective this important and timely novel brings to life the risks people are willing to take to make their voices heard and the resilience of the human spirit. Subhi's hauntingly evocative descriptions of life in the camp deftly capture the claustrophobic feel of the camp, whilst his vivid imagination and love of stories provide a much needed escape from the awful reality of his situation. The plot is skilfully executed, blending together the two different narratives of the main characters, allowing both to influence the other's life and propelling the action forward. Finally, the credible and consistent ending offers hope, but no easy happy ending.
Zana Fraillon lives in Victoria, Australia with her husband and three sons. She worked as a primary school teacher before having children, and has had picture books and middle grade fiction published in Australia.