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“An astonishing book that allows the humanity of refugees to speak louder than politics and introduces readers to one of Syria’s incredible artists.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs. The author was immediately impressed by the strong narrative quality of Mr. Badr’s work, and, using many of Mr. Badr’s already-created pieces, she set out to create a story about the Syrian refugee crisis. Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe. Nizar Ali Badr’s stunning stone images illustrate the story.
Orca Book Publishers is pleased to offer this book as a dual-language (English and Arabic) edition.
About the Artist
Explore the art of Nizar Ali Badr.
Reviews & Accolades
“Rama wakes with the call of her family’s rooster, laughing, playing, and spending her days surrounded by the love of her family. When war comes to Syria, Rama’s happy, peaceful life shrinks, food becomes scarce, and bombs fall ever closer, until her family must leave their home. They walk “to the end of the earth,” climb aboard a little boat, and are battered by the roiling sea, saying prayers for those who didn’t make it any further. Ruurs writes purely and warmly, with the text set in both English and Raheem’s Arabic translation on each page, of a family who become refugees. She deftly conveys the happiness of peaceful childhood, then the confusion and the fears born of war and migration, and the relief and curiosity of arriving at a new home—and the uncertainty whether it will be forever. Artist Badr still lives in his birthplace of Latakia, Syria. Lacking resources, he began using the stones he collects from the sea to depict stories of his compatriots with love and compassion. Each illustration is masterful, with Badr’s placement of stones as careful as brush strokes, creating figures positioned to tell the whole story without the benefit of facial expressions: dancing, cradling, working; burdened, in danger, at peace. A foreword describes how the book came to be. An astonishing book that allows the humanity of refugees to speak louder than politics and introduces readers to one of Syria’s incredible artists.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Ruurs’ beautiful words are twinned with the most stunning artwork by Nizar Ali Badr…I could not but be moved by Badr’s work, as it is unlike anything else I have ever seen and conveys so much emotion. I hope this beautiful book will reach the shelves of classrooms, libraries and homes throughout the world and be read and shared many times over.”
—Canadian Children’s Book News
Theme: Civil War
Theme: Fleeing Persecution
Theme: Refugee Life
Theme: Undocumented Immigration
Europe (Unnamed Countries)
Engagement Projects & Resources
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