Top positive review
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A remarkable achievement
on 27 February 2007
I would recommend this book on the strength and beauty of the drawings alone, but I am happy to say that it also tells a moving, compelling story. It captures well that first encounter with a new country, the "arrival" when one is geting to know a new place, new language, new foods and trying to make sense of it all. Is this world safer than the one you've left behind? What dangers forced you to leave?
Through using elements of fantasy, it avoids an easy exoticism and prevents us from patronising the main characters -- we don't understand this world either, can't read its language, don't recognise its animals or know how its machines work. We aren't sure what is safe and what is not. We would like to believe the world is benign, but we don't know, and there seem infinite possiblities for things to go wrong. In this tension, it also captures the importance of the kindness of strangers and of fellow immigrants, whose sometimes painful back-stories are conveyed beautifully and concisely in one or two pages of images.
All this, without the use of words. A remarkable achievement.
I am an immigrant by choice, not necessity (as are many of the characters in this story), but I know what I will be giving my friends and relatives for years to come.