A young girl describes her moves to different countries in a debut children’s book by journalist Villadsen.
Rose’s parents are from Zambia and Denmark; they met while both were working in Kosovo. She was born in South Africa, which she calls a “ ‘Rainbow Nation’ because it is one country with people that look different from each other.” She describes how she acted as a baby, and then goes on to talk about her first childhood move to Kenya. In a loving tone, she talks about her friends, many of whom also are the children of parents from two different nations. Rose creates a heartfelt vision of the lives of multinational children in Kenya, who do many things that American children will find familiar (such as going to birthday parties featuring bounce houses and face painters), as well as more exotic activities, such as going on safari to see wild elephants and giraffes. Although she loves her life in Kenya, Rose is on the move again when her parents change jobs. Later, life in in the African country becomes unstable and violent. Rose is happy in Zimbabwe, however, and the move encourages her to be braver when she has to change countries again—this time to Switzerland. The book presents Rose as an early elementary school student, but its text is dense, and newly independent and chapter-book readers may be intimidated by the number of words on each page. Shorter’s illustrations, which are competent but uninspired, do little to relieve readers, as there are several pages of text for each full-page illustration. However, when Rose muses on topics such as adoption and mixed-race identity, her childlike understanding rings true. Villadsen masterfully and realistically captures the tone of a young writer, and also knows how to use details to depict Rose’s life as both excitingly different and utterly relatable.
A unique, if text-heavy, take on international living, shown from the convincing perspective of a young girl.