There is a boat. It isn’t even really a boat – just a toy dinghy really. And in that boat a group of refugees sit. It’s cold. It’s dark. It’s frightening. The sea is rising. And there is a boy with a violin, who starts to tell them a story.
I picked this book up on a bit of a whim really. It looked somewhat magical with the beautiful illustrations by Jo Weaver. The cover, with the beautiful horse made up of musical notes just looked so wonderful. The illustrations within are also absolutely amazing.
This book is a wonderful story of hope, music, defiance, and freedom. Gill Lewis clearly wrote this book in response to the refugee crisis, and it’s a really emotional read which has been endorsed by Amnesty International. It’s a fabulous tale which merges one of the traditional Mongolian tales of the creation of the first violin with the tale of refugees, with interjections and discussion from the refugees included in the tale. It really is a story within a story, in the finest tradition of the Canterbury Tales and suchlike.
It’s quite a short read, and the surface story would work quite well for children of many ages. However, older children from age 11 and up will probably be the most likely to appreciate some of the sophisticated, darker themes of refuge and war. Either way – it’s a book that belongs on everybody’s shelf, and would be great for anyone who enjoyed Frank Cotterell-Boyce’s The Unforgotten Coat or Kate DiCamillo’s The Magician’s Elephant.