Sonderbooks Book Review of

Finding Home

Words from Kids Seeking Sanctuary

by Gwen Agna and Shelley Rotner

photographs by Shelley Rotner

Finding Home

Words from Kids Seeking Sanctuary

by Gwen Agna and Shelley Rotner
photographs by Shelley Rotner

Review posted February 10, 2024.
Clarion Books, 2024. 32 pages.
Review written January 29, 2024, from a library book.
Starred Review

Oh, this beautiful book! I've long been a fan of Shelley Rotner's bright, beautiful photo illustrations focusing on children. In this one she shows us smiling faces of children from all over the world who are refugees. As a mom, the pictures of these sweet children wrenched my heart, but the book is completely kid-friendly, showing kids photos of other children who are just like them in important ways.

There's simple text tying the pages together, and then most of the book is quotations from children, with speech bubbles coming from their photographs.

First, the book explains in simple language this concept:

Kids from all over the world have to leave their homes and countries.

They have to escape --
fleeing fires, floods, drought, or war --
because it's not safe for them to stay anymore.

Many families leave hoping to find freedom,
a better life -- a new home.

Quotations from kids, with photographs, illustrate each part. After the basic definition of refugees, it talks about the difficulty of moving. But the bulk of the book is positive things about their new lives. Here's the text of that part without the quotations:

It takes a lot of courage --
you have to be brave to move somewhere new.

All kids need a safe place to learn . . .

... explore. . .

. . . play. . .

. . . celebrate good times together. . .

. . . and make new friends.

That section shows kids doing exactly those things.

Here are some of the quotations from kids:

We left in a hurry. We could hardly bring anything. I could only take what fit in my backpack.

I miss my home and I miss my comfortable bed, but I'm glad I'm not in a country that's having a war.

It was hard to make friends at first when you speak a different language. I couldn't understand them, and they couldn't understand me.

My new school has art class. We didn't have that in my country. I love to draw. This is my happy home.

There are more details of some of the children's stories at the back, a glossary, and author's notes. This will help give kids empathy for other kids in the world, who may show up in their own classrooms.