This photo-book introduces the refugee crisis with powerful simplicity. With a short sentence and large image on every page, it cuts through the politics and overwhelming scale of the current forced migrations, asking questions that will resonate with young children. From the first understated line – ‘Sometimes scary things happen to good people’ – readers take their own journey to Europe from Africa, the Middle East and Asia. They join children crossing deserts and seas, waiting at borders and sleeping on streets.
The story zooms in from the general – ‘Families must … search for a safe place to live’ – to the personal: ‘where will I live?’ But it’s the photos that speak loudest. Beautiful in colour and composition, they offer glimpses of the hardship, confusion and fear of those forced to flee. The struggles are written on faces, from the bewildered little boy staring up at a Hungarian border guard to the tearful brothers on a cart in the Lebanon. There’s joy, too: the friends posing for the camera in Cameroon and the girl from Niger who ends her journey with the hope that ‘someone will smile and say, “Welcome home.” I hope that someone is you.’
McCarney is Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations and her empathy and concern for displaced people shine through. This book is a gift, both as a sensitive first look at forced migration and as a call to compassion for those old enough to read between its quiet, measured lines.