Written by Wendy Meddour, illustrated by Daniel Egneus
This powerful story shows without explicit detail a young girl named Luna fleeing her home country with her father. She finds a pebble that comforts her and becomes her best friend as they seek a new home. The story shows their experiences as refugees in a very simple, child-like way: Luna sees where they stay for a time as “the land of tents” and she mentions telling telling the pebble about her brothers, home, and the war without really going into detail – just briefly mentioning each topic and showing that thinking of those things made her feel scared. Her relationship with her father is exceptional – he makes her feel secure and demonstrates valuing the things that she values. About halfway through the story, a little boy, Amir, comes into their family, and we are met with more vague descriptions of the results of his trauma – that “at first, he had no words. Just blinks and sneezes and stares.” Luna becomes friends with him and uses Pebble to help him work through his emotions as well, until her dad finds them a home and she has to leave her new him behind. She compassionately gives him Pebble to comfort him.
This book is beautiful and moving for somebody who understands what is really going on, but the only reason I rate it as less than Like it! is because it would require a lot of explanation for a child to be able to follow the story, so without that it might be that children don’t get a lot out of the story. However, the depiction of her various emotions and the way she talked them out with Pebble is extremely valuable and beneficial for developing emotional intelligence and regulation!
During the reading:
- An estimated 25.9 million people have been forced to flee as refugees into other countries worldwide, with half of those people being children. When you begin this story, it will be valuable for you to explain what a refugee is, and an example of a circumstance that could cause a family like Luna and her father to have to leave their home. When they arrive at the “world of tents”, explain that it’s a tent like you take camping, but that they have to live in for a while until they can find a new home since they had to leave behind their house and everything they had. The author doesn’t make it very clear, but you can help your child begin to understand difficult topics like refugees and war by pairing a really simple explanation with this extremely personal, emotion-based story. Ask how they think Luna would feel in that situation of leaving everything behind!
- Help your child relate to Luna by asking them how their comfort object makes them feel if they have one! Before children gain the skills to be able to cope with difficult emotions on their own, most use a “comfort object” for a while (which may continue even after being able to more effectively regulate their own emotions). If you help your child to describe the feeling they have when they have their particular object, it will help them to better understand their own personal process of dealing with emotions, and that meta-thinking in turn helps them to better handle them in the future and help others work through their feelings.
- This book provides a great opportunity to talk about feeling scared. You could ask your child what they do when they feel scared and share with them what you do when you feel scared. This will not only help them to see that you have these feelings, too, and that it is normal and okay to feel a full range of emotions, but it will also help you to understand how they cope and how best to support them.
- When Amir comes, you could explain that he is a refugee like them! This might be a good point in the story to make sure your child understood your explanation from earlier by asking them if they remember what a refugee is and having them tell you what they understand.
- When Amir is described as having no words, you could explain that he felt scared because of having to leave his home, so he didn’t like to talk. Help them to empathize with him and begin to understand his feelings, too, so that they don’t just see him acting outside of what they would expect and think that it’s odd, but understand why (the author doesn’t explain any of his story or feelings).
- When Luna’s dad tells her that he’s found a home for them, ask your child why they think she felt happy and then sad! Help them to see that she and Amir were sad to leave each other since they were good friends.
- You can talk about how just like Amir can talk to Pebble when he misses Luna, talking about our emotions can help us to feel better! If your child has had an experience where they’ve talked through a difficult emotion with you or somebody else they trust and felt better, ask them to tell that story to you so that they draw that connection to Amir and reinforce that principle in their memory.
Want to see more content like this? Browse new reviews weekly from the comfort of your inbox!