Review of Refuge, by Anne Booth & Sam Usher


The Timeless Story of Christmas

by Anne Booth & Sam Usher

Little, Brown and Company, 2016. Originally published in the United Kingdom in 2015. 28 pages.
Starred Review
Review written in 2017

Yes, this is based on the Christmas story, but it focuses on Jesus’ family as refugees when they traveled to Egypt. You don’t have to know anything about Christmas to appreciate this book. And it seems timely whether during the Christmas season or not.

The narrator of the tale is the donkey who carried the family. It tells briefly about traveling to Bethlehem where the baby was born and visitors came.

When the last king left, the scent of frankincense lingering in the air, we all slept and the man had a dream.

A dream of danger.

He woke long before the sun rose and told the woman. She took the baby and kissed him. She smelled his sweet baby breath, and felt his soft, warm baby skin and how his lashes tickled her cheek as he sleepily nuzzled her neck.

“Time to go,” she said.

Here’s how the book ends, over several pages:

And I kept walking, carrying my precious load,
and the woman held the baby close to her heart,
and she and the man talked, about journeys,
and dreams and warnings,
and the love of a baby,
and the kindness of strangers.

And when we rested,
and they were frightened,
they took hope from each other,
and from the baby’s tiny first smile.

And we entered into Egypt . . .

. . . and we found refuge.

The illustrations are water colors with a simple palette – mostly purply-black and white and gold, but with a little blue for Mary. The story is simple and haunting, and presents a way of looking at the Christmas story that had never even crossed my mind.

In addition, the cover of the book informs us that for each book purchased in the United States through September 2017, the publisher donated a dollar to the UN Refugee Agency.

A simple way to talk with your children about refugees and to open your own heart. Yes, all with a simple and beautiful picture book.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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