scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source
While sad and ultimately triumphant, Stepping Stones is made even more real by its close ties to current events, including the fact that Nizar Ali Badr, whose art has inspired so many, is a native of Syria. Though he has remained in his country, he says his heart is with the refugees who have needed to flee.
The story of how this book came to be is detailed in its introduction, but in short, the author came across a beautiful image of stone art by chance on social media, and went on a quest to track down the artist. She eventually found Nizar Ali Badr and was able to contact him via a friend who could translate their messages. He agreed to collaborate with the author on this book, which has now generated more than $60,000 to aid refugees in Canada, and includes an Arabic translation right below the English text.
I can't say I've ever seen a children's book with art this unique, but at the same time stones are a very tangible medium. Children's imaginations certainly don't need a huge technological production in order to be inspired, and the texture and depth apparent in these images can convey so much to all of us on a basic level -- fear, loss, love, determination.
Many of the images feature people journeying as the text recounts a story of a refugee family fleeing war and death, and seeking peace. The story in this book is detailed enough to portray characters with names and specific memories, but general enough to be applicable to many different times and places, thus showing a universal aspect of refugee journeys -- many human families yearning for peace.
Author: Margriet Ruurs
Illustrator: Nizar Ali Badr
Content Advisory: There is mention of war and death (sans details) -- one image depicts people in a boat while others are in the water.