A Selection of International Children's and Youth Literature

English / Great Britain

Looking at the stars

Cotterill, Jo (text)
London: Bodley Head, 2014. – 365 p.
ISBN 978-1-782-30018-2

Civil war – Oppression – Refugee – Discrimination – Imagination – Storytelling 

This moving story is set in an unnamed country in which life is dominated by the harsh laws and restrictions of the ruling dictator and his Kwana army. When foreign soldiers arrive at their village, thirteen-year-old Amina hopes that their lives will soon change for the better. At first however, everything gets worse: Fighting breaks out, her older brother Ruman joins the rebel group, their father is brutally killed in front of their eyes, and Amina and her older sister Jenna get separated from their mother and younger sister. Walking for days without food and water, they are desperate when they finally reach the country’s only refugee camp. Jo Cotterill describes the girls’ hardships and the atrocities inside and outside the camp in simple but elegant prose that makes the protagonists’ experiences come alive for the readers. Still, this is not only a story about war, oppression, and discrimination; it is also a tale about kindness, family bonds, and the power of imagination and storytelling. (Age: 10+)