A poetic distillation of the experience of a group of refugees, always moving from one “here” to another “here.”
A group of refugees is on a journey, with backpacks, bags, babies, and a cat. It’s winter. Some people are sad, and a few women wear loose headscarves. Two children chat along the way about their movement through a quietly surreal landscape. “Here is just here. / Or here. / Here is this cup. / Old and fine, warm as a hug. / Every morning, / As things keep changing, / We sit wherever we are / And sip, sip, sip, / Sippy, sip, sip / Ahhhh / From this cup.” The children find home in rituals and tradition, community, objects of warmth and memory, and hope. Maclear and Kheiriyeh brilliantly portray refugees as people first. Their child protagonists, possibly a girl and her young brother, dream, sing, read, write, draw—even the cat draws—and make the best of what they have. In the end, the story about their journey becomes the titular boat, which has carried them along. Kheiriyeh uses smudgy lines and a limited palette of orange, black, brown, and white on blue negative space, refugee tent camps giving way to fantastical land- and seascapes the children imagine. The love shared among the group is plain. When they get to their destination, they don’t look too different from the few people welcoming them—save hair color.
A timely and uplifting book about and for refugees. (Picture book. 6-10)