In this companion to The Journey (2017), Sanna reminds readers that the journey for refugees is far from over even after they find a new home.
Featuring the same black-haired, pale-skinned, refugee family from Sanna’s previous book, this installment follows the daughter of the family of three as she adjusts to life in their new country of residence and tries not to let her fear overcome her. Fear is a secret “tiny friend” first portrayed in a positive light as a factor that has “kept me safe.” But being in a new place is overwhelming, and her fear has grown exponentially, both in size and in stubbornness, preventing the narrator from exploring her new world. Fear brings loneliness, self-doubt, and sleepless nights, but it also causes her to rationalize her solitude, believing that those around her cannot and will not understand or like her. When a friendly boy finally connects with her, the narrator is able to manage her fear and realizes that he and others at school also have their own fears that they must manage. Though the fears are sometimes depicted as large, angry, or apprehensive, they are generally small, smiling, ghostlike creatures that are companions to all. Read without the previous book’s context, there are no cultural markers to indicate the family’s background, just text indicating that the family is in a new country, is learning the language, and that the girl’s teacher has a hard time saying her name. The narrator’s classmates have various skin tones and hair color.
A universal book that can be used to explain fear to readers and give empathy to those in a new environment. (Picture book. 4-8)