Cover image for When stars are scattered
Title:
When stars are scattered
ISBN:
9780525553915

9780525553908
Physical Description:
256 pages : chiefly colour illustrations ; 21 cm.
Summary:
Omar and his younger brother Hassan live in a refugee camp, and when an opportunity for Omar to get an education comes along, he must decide between going to school every day or caring for his nonverbal brother in this intimate and touching portrayal of family and daily life in a refugee camp. --
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Stillwater Public Library1On Order

Summary

Summary

Heartbreak and hope exist together in this remarkable graphic novel about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl.

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.

Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It's an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.


Author Notes

Victoria Jamieson is the creator of the graphic novels All's Faire in Middle School and Newbery Honor winner Roller Girl . She received her BFA in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design and worked as a children's book designer before becoming a freelance illustrator. She has also worked as a portrait artist aboard a cruise ship, and has lived in Australia, Italy, and Canada. Now she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son. Omar Mohamed spent his childhood at the Dadaab camp, after his father was killed and he was separated from his mother in Somalia. He devoted everything to taking care of his younger brother, Hassan, and to pursuing his education. He now lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with his wife and five children, and works at a center to help resettle other refugees. He is the founder of Refugee Strong, a non-profit organization that empowers students living in refugee camps.

Iman Geddy , the colorist for this book, is an Atlanta-based designer and illustrator who is passionate about using the graphic arts for social good. Inspired by the geometric harmony of Islamic architecture as well as the colorful equatorial landscapes of eastern Africa, she creates striking art that highlights the beauty of the world around us.


Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4--8--Perennial comic book favorite Jamieson teams up with Mohamed, a Somalian refugee, to tell a heartbreaking story inspired by Mohamed's life. Cared for by kind Fatuma, an older woman who also lost her family, Omar and his little brother Hassan have lived in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya since they were small, when their father was killed and they were separated from their mother while fleeing civil war. Though Omar loves looking after Hassan, who is mostly nonverbal, life in the camp, where "it felt like all you ever did was wait," is stultifying and grindingly difficult. When Omar has the opportunity to attend school, he and his friends realize that they can increase their families' painfully slim chances at being chosen for resettlement. Heavier on text compared with Jamieson's usual fare, this title still features the expressive, gentle style of Roller Girl or All's Faire in Middle School--the language of cartoons makes the subject matter accessible to a middle grade audience. Indeed, the authors highlight moments of levity and sweetness as the children and their families do their best to carve out meaningful lives in the bleakest of circumstances. An afterword and author's notes go into greater detail about Mohamed's life, how the two met and decided to collaborate, which elements of the story are fictitious, and how to help other refugees. VERDICT With this sensitive and poignant tale, Jamieson and Mohamed express the power of the human spirit to perverse.--Darla Salva Cruz, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY


Publisher's Weekly Review

Based on coauthor Mohamed's childhood after fleeing Somalia on foot with his younger brother, this affecting graphic novel follows the brothers' life in a Kenyan refugee camp. Though loving foster mother Fatuma cares for the boys, Mohamed watches out for his largely nonverbal younger brother, Hassan, who experiences occasional seizures, and is fearful of leaving him even to attend school. Mohamed longs to find their biological mother, and--like nearly everyone in the vast camp--waits for a life-changing, seemingly arbitrary UN interview that will determine whether the boys will be resettled, perhaps in the U.S. or Canada. Jamieson and Mohamed together craft a cohesive, winding story that balances daily life and boredom, past traumas, and unforeseen outcomes alongside camp denizens' ingenuity and community. Expressive, memorable characters by Jamieson (Roller Girl) work and play against backdrops of round-topped UN tents, while colorist Iman Geddy's deep purple skies drive home the title. The result of this team effort is a personal and poignant entry point for young readers trying to understand an unfair world. Back matter includes photographs of the brothers and authors' notes. Ages 9--12. (Apr.)


Horn Book Review

This poignant graphic novel about growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp is based on co-author Mohameds experiences as an orphaned Somali refugee. The narrative focuses primarily on Omars fierce protection of Hassan, his younger brother who has limited verbal communication and who suffers occasional seizures. When the highly intelligent and compassionate Omar is encouraged by supportive adults to pursue his education, he does so reluctantly (I felt torn in half. Should I go to school? Or should I stay with my family?). Years of studying, turmoil over resettlement, and near-debilitating ennui follow. Omar and Hassan eventually find themselves as teenagers poised for resettlement to America, but not without the cost of abandoning the relationships theyve developed at the camp. The brothers difficult lives at the refugee camp are complexly conveyed through engaging past/present narration, artful repetition, and Jamiesons (Roller Girl, rev. 3/15) confident cartooning. Multi-paneled layouts are regularly layered over singular background spreads, creating visual depth, while text-rich captions and substantial dialogue drive the narrative. Tragedy is certainly present throughout the story, yet Mohamed and Jamiesons focus on deep familial love and education works to subvert many refugee stereotypes. Back matter includes photographs, an illuminating afterword, and two authors notes (in Jamiesons, she shares her connection to Mohamed, along with her process for adapting his story into a graphic novel). Full-color art not seen. Patrick Gall March/April 2020 p.83(c) Copyright 2020. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

A Somali boy living in a refugee camp in Kenya tries to make a future for himself and his brother in this near memoir interpreted as a graphic novel by collaborator Jamieson. Omar Mohamed lives in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya with his younger brother, Hassan, who has a seizure disorder, and Fatuma, an elderly woman assigned to foster them in their parents' absence. The boys' father was killed in Somalia's civil war, prompting them to flee on foot when they were separated from their mother. They desperately hope she is still alive and looking for them, as they are for her. The book covers six years, during which Omar struggles with decisions about attending school and how much hope to have about opportunities to resettle in a new land, like the United States. Through Omar's journey, and those of his friends and family members, readers get a close, powerful view of the trauma and uncertainty that attend life as a refugee as well as the faith, love, and support from unexpected quarters that get people through it. Jamieson's characteristically endearing art, warmly colored by Geddy, perfectly complements Omar's story, conjuring memorable and sympathetic characters who will stay with readers long after they close the book. Photographs of the brothers and an afterword provide historical context; Mohamed and Jamieson each contribute an author's note. This engaging, heartwarming story does everything one can ask of a book, and then some. (Graphic memoir. 9-13) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Omar Mohamed was a child when soldiers attacked his village in Somalia. Separated from his parents, he and his younger brother, Hassan, eventually made their way to Dadaab, a crowded refugee camp in Kenya where he now spends his days scrambling for food and taking care of Hassan, who is nonverbal and suffers from debilitating seizures. A chance to attend school is a dream come true, but the opportunity weighs heavily on Omar; school is a selfish choice when you have no parents and a brother who needs constant looking after. Debut author Mohamed shares his absorbing story with absolute honesty, laying bare every aspect of his life's many challenges; even after surviving unimaginable circumstances, he remains compassionate--to others as well as himself. While Mohamed's story is riveting in its own right, the illustrations bring warmth and depth to the tale. Drawing with evident empathy and deep respect, Jamieson captures the many significant moments in Mohamed's life with charming detail. Wonderfully expressive figures convey complex and conflicted emotions, and the rich colors imbue the story with life. Mohamed's experience is unfortunately not unique, but it is told with grace, humility, and forgiveness. This beautiful memoir is not to be missed.