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Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (The Children's Book Podcast #598)

Updated: May 27, 2020

Victoria Jamieson (@JamiesonV) and Omar Mohamed (@dantey114) share WHEN STARS ARE SCATTERED, a graphic novel based on Omar's experience as a Somalian refugee Kenya. Omar's story is one that you won’t soon forget. It is a story about family and about surviving. It’s a story about education and advocating for yourself. In Omar’s experience, he says “the worst part about being in a refugee camp is that it’s monotonous and boring.” This is where Victoria’s skills as a storyteller and cartoonist shine. The comic has a strong sense of setting, helping give purpose to all of it’s characters and how their lives intersect. WHEN STARS ARE SCATTERED is the first book since safe-at-home that I’ve connected over with a student. Emma, one of my 3rd graders, share it over Zoom during one library class and we each immediately fell into a moment of book love as we realized we were each reading the same story. Emma and her sister Hannah are mentioned throughout this conversation, as well as the amazing ways these readers were touched by Omar’s story, a glimpse of how readers are connecting with the book across the country. I’ll end with Omar’s words, as they’ve been on my heart since recording this interview. “The simple thing we do for a human being may change their entire life.”

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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 toNew York TimesBestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.


Refugee Strong (Website)


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