Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Four Feet, Two Sandals

     Four Feet, Two Sandals, written by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed and illustrated by Doug Chayka, is a refugee story set in Peshawar, a border town in Pakistan.  The story is inspired, according to the authors, by a real-life refugee girl who asked why there were no books about people like her.

     The story is about two little girls who meet in a refugee camp in Peshawar, after fleeing with what was left of their families from Afghanistan.  Neither of the girls have shoes, and when they find one pair that fits both of them, they decide to share the shoes, and develop a friendship.

     It can be assumed that the descriptions of daily life for a refugee are accurate, because the authors themselves have worked with this same refugee people group in the United States and in Pakistan.  Although accurate, the story is designed for first world children, so it is a soft introduction to the plight of refugees that is appropriate for young readers.

     I especially appreciated the author's note on the final page, which answers the question, "What is a refugee?"  For parents interested in teaching their children about a rather large and particularly vulnerable segment of our global society, this is a good starting point.

     It is worth noting that the story does not refer to the children as "refugees."  You may wish to point out that people prefer to be known by their names, not by labels.  The book does an excellent job of creating individuality out of a mass group.

     There is an online guide, meant for teachers, that is worth reading.  It discusses the story's themes and suggests questions to ask your children that will better their understanding of the book, and how they can relate it to their own lives.

     I like the book, enough said.  The information aspects are important to me, and they are things that I want my children to know.  The artwork is engaging.  It isn't as colorful as most children's books, but it depicts the landscape of the region, the ethnic dress of the people, and their home surroundings accurately.

     For those of you who are disclosurites, let me restate what I've said in my last post.  The opinions expressed here are my own.  I am not paid by Amazon or anyone else to express them.  I do, however, get a commission from the sale of the book if it is bought through the Amazon links posted here.

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