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ZIBA CAME ON A BOAT by Liz Lofthouse


by Liz Lofthouse & illustrated by Robert Ingpen

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-933605-52-4
Publisher: Kane/Miller

Aiming for depth, this refugee tale offers obscure impressions and dark vagueness. “Ziba came on a boat. A soggy old fishing boat that creaked and moaned… across an endless sea. . . . ” Ziba misses “home,” where she and her cousins “laughed as they splashed each other with icy water, and carried the heavy clay pots to the warmth of the mud-brick house.” However, the memories that Lofthouse describes as lighthearted appear heavy and sad in Ingpen’s beautiful paintings; the visual mood is consistently dismal, coloring the homeland grim throughout. Even Ziba’s father’s purportedly “peaceful face” looks worried or threatening, his forehead creased. After the ostensibly happy time, a “darkness” involving “gunfire” descends. Ziba’s homeland is not named, nor is her destination, a “new land” where her mother anticipates “Freedom.” The incongruity between Ingpen’s haunting illustrations and Lofthouse’s text, and the lack of geographic detail, create confusing desolation rather than the attempted emotional mix. (Picture book. 7-9)