Lubna navigates the challenges of being a refugee: keeping happy—or rather, surviving—and passing the courage on.
She arrives with her dad as refugees to their temporary home, “a World of Tents,” with no visible toys and perhaps nothing at all. Lubna latches onto a pebble she finds on the beach after their crowded boat arrives at the shore. After this find, she “clutched Daddy’s hand and gripped her pebble. Somehow, she knew they’d keep her safe.” The larger-than-life, almost dreamy illustrations show readers what Lubna sees and feels, and the rawness of both text and images penetrates the heart. Lubna and Pebble become best friends, and she and her lovingly understanding father even create a nice home for it to face the cold winter, a shoebox with a tea towel. Then she meets another friend, Amir, a little boy who is alone. “This is my best friend, Pebble,” Lubna says. Amir smiles, and together they play under the stars, the illustrations taking on jewel tones that contrast their imaginary play with the drabness of the refugee camp. When Lubna hears the happy news about resettlement to a better place, she is first happy, then sad about leaving Amir behind. She makes a hard and selfless decision that night, to share her treasure with her young friend who needs to hang on. Lubna, her father, and Amir have olive skin and dark hair; their circumstances hint at Syrian origins, but no country is named.
A true celebration of the endless creativity and resilience of children. (Picture book. 5-12)