________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 2 . . . . September 16, 2016


Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey.

Margriet Ruurs. Artwork by Nizar Ali Badr.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2016.
28 pp., hc, pdf & epub, $20.00 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1490-5 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1491-2 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1492-9 (epub).

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

**** /4

Reviewed from f&g's.



But Jedo said we weren't really free. If we're not allowed to sing our songs, to dance our dances, to pray the prayers of our choice, are we truly free?

Then war came to our country. Life in our village changed. Nothing was as it had been.

Orca's unique new picture book has its origins in Canadian author Margriet Ruurs' social media habits. One day Ruurs was on Facebook when her attention was captured by posted photographs of images created using clever arrangements of pebbles and stones. Ruurs endeavoured to contact the talented artist who had created the artwork and, after considerable time and effort, her persistence was rewarded. Using the stone work creations of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr as a starting point, Ruurs set about constructing a suitable written text to accompany the art. The result is a powerful, intriguing, informative, evocative, entertaining book–Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey.

      Canada is justifiably proud of its multicultural make-up and welcoming attitudes. Stepping Stones has the potential to be a useful tool for strengthening the already firm multicultural foundation upon which Canada is built. Readers of all ages will find things of value within the pages of the book. The dual language written text for Stepping Stones is presented in English and Arabic. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the book will be donated to refugee resettlement organisations across North America.

      Badr's clever arrangements represent a unique approach to art and particularly picture book illustration. It will be interesting to see if imitators seek to emulate the style in future book publishing ventures. The photographed stone arrangements seem oftentimes to pulse with more life than one might think possible. Whether consciously or otherwise, given his media Badr has created human figures that suggest the unbreakable spirit of people seeking freedom and opportunity.

      As his people were attacked in November 1864, in an incident remembered as the Sand Creek Massacre, the Cheyenne chief White Antelope is said to have encouraged his warriors to bravery by calling out "Only the stones stay on earth forever." Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey will not likely stay on earth forever – but this rare treasure of a book is likely to remain highly sought-after for some considerable time.

Highly Recommended.

Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba where he teaches children's literature classes.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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