Cover image for Wherever I go
Wherever I go
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Reading Level:
590 L Lexile

On Order

R.H. Stafford Library (Woodbury)1On Order
Hardwood Creek Library (Forest Lake)1On Order
Oakdale Library1On Order
Park Grove Library (Cottage Grove)1On Order



A hopeful and timely picture book about a spirited little girl living in a refugee camp.

Of all her friends, Abia has been at the Shimelba Refugee Camp the longest--seven years, four months, and sixteen days. Papa says that's too long and they need a forever home. Until then, though, Abia has something important to do. Be a queen.

Sometimes she's a noisy queen, banging on her drum as she and Mama wait in the long line for rice to cook for dinner. Sometimes she's a quiet queen, cuddling her baby cousin to sleep while Auntie is away collecting firewood. And sometimes, when Papa talks hopefully of their future, forever home, Abia is a little nervous. Forever homes are in strange and faraway places--will she still be a queen?

Filled with hope, love, and respect, Wherever I Go is a timely tribute to the strength and courage of refugees around the world.

Author Notes

Mary Wagley Copp has worked for many years in the refugee resettlement community. She was a producer of an Emmy Award-winning documentary on refugee resettlement, which was the inspiration for this book. Her professional life has also included community organizing in Appalachia, teaching in Ecuador, and being executive director of two nonprofit organizations. When she's not writing, Mary teaches ESL to newcomers in her community. She lives in Westport, Massachusetts, with her husband, their puppy, and their chickens. They have three grown children.

Munir D. Mohammed is a native of Ghana, West Africa, who lives in Providence, Rhode Island. He maintains an active studio practice and does community-based work as a muralist. He is the cofounder of the International Gallery for Heritage and Culture, which provided art and cultural education programming in schools and in the community. Munir received a Master of Arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he is a Teaching Artist for Project Open Door, RISD's college access program for artistically talented teens attending local urban public high schools.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Debut author Copp, who has worked in refugee resettlement, creates a hero whose life in an Ethiopian refugee camp is the only one she's ever known. "I am Queen Abia of the Shimelba Camp," she announces. Artist Mohammed, making his picture book debut, paints the brown-skinned girl in a vibrant blue dress that stands out against the camp's dry red dust. She contributes to daily life with panache: "Even though I'm a queen, I still have to pump water. I just sing louder than everyone else." Mohammed's documentary-style paintings sweep across the landscape and close in on interior scenes with equal care. His portraits of Abia and her family have classic, sculptural dimensions. At the time of the full moon, Mama retells the story of their escape: "Mama says gunfire crackled all night, but I just cooed at the moon." Papa looks to the future, saying that they'll find a new home, a forever home. Queen Abia is wary; in the end, though, Mohammed shows her sitting in an airplane, flying away from the rows of tents with a story of her own to tell--a story of resilience and strength. Ages 6--9. Author's agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator's agent: Lara Perkins, Andrea Brown Literary. (Apr.)

Kirkus Review

A child describes her life in an Ethiopian refugee camp.As Abia moves through Shimelba Camp, she is full of pride and hides neither her skills nor her vibrant imagination. She plays pretend with her friends on the fields, sings while pumping water from the well, and soothes her baby cousin to sleep. Abia shares her story as a self-described queen in the camp, bearing a crown fashioned from acacia twigs by her father. Beautiful, realistic paintings portray the challenging everyday lives of refugees in the northern Ethiopian camp and, notably, show refugee children and adults working, playing, sharing, and making the best out of what they have. Their life is difficult but not pitiable, and although Abia's father longs to move on, Abia is dubious about leaving the only life she's known. Queen Abia listens to her mother narrating how they ran away from their village when she was a baby, escaping fighters and then lions and hyenas. She is proud of her story and takes it with her as her family gets resettled in a developed country and adjusts to life there after over seven years of living as a refugee. She is Queen Abia wherever she goes. The book is enriched with an informative note by the author about refugees and lists of additional children's books about the topic. A fine addition to children's literature about refugees, resettlement, and resilience. (Picture book. 6-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Meet Abia, the self-proclaimed queen of Shimelba a refugee camp in northern Ethiopia. Queen Abia confidently marches through the fields, pumps and carries water with strength and care, and can even soothe her baby cousin while Mama and Auntie collect firewood. After a seven-year reign, Papa says it's time for them to leave Camp Shimelba behind for a forever home. Reminded by Mama of the history that brought their family to the camp, Abia understands the dangers they escaped. Even so, she is still uncertain of what lies beyond the borders of her home. This story captures the unequivocal joy of childhood even in the midst of refugee status and resettlement. Acrylic paint illustrations eloquently capture the warm earth tones of East Africa with great attention paid to defining features of the people. While this title isn't an #OwnVoices text, an author's note does offer links to more information and resources regarding refugees and resettlement in addition to a list of related children's and young adult titles.--Melanie Kirkwood Copyright 2020 Booklist