Salih by Inda Ahmad Zahri
Inda Ahmad Zahri (2021)
Salih is a story of hope and empathy. A young child with a backpack full of belongings and her memories, flees her war-torn home. We learn of her sadness and wishes, and the different ways that people cope with trauma. Her journey is long and frightening. Salih and her fellow refugees do not know what will meet them when they finally reach their destination. They cannot be certain that there will be someone who can understand them and the challenges they have faced.
This is a beautifully illustrated picture story book that can help young children understand some of the experiences that other children around the world face. It is a gateway book to a global understanding and can be a fabulous tool to develop our young global citizens. The reader has an opportunity to make connections with the lovely things that Salih remembers, and is then asked to consider the changes that Salih has faced due to war.
This book is rich with imagery: “By the time we reach the sea, I am jangling like a potioneer.” and metaphor: “The sea is angry for the homes we’ve lost.” As a teacher, this book is the perfect mentor text for teaching a range of comprehension strategies including prediction and inferring. It’s also an excellent model for writing traits such as the supreme word choice e.g. ‘stomachs lurch’, ‘feet thrum’. At Year Two this text could be introduced as a challenging text where considerable rereads and teacher support might be necessary. It would also be appropriate for the Middle and Senior Years of Primary School.
Klara and the Sun
Kazuo Ishiguro 2021
Faber and Faber
A unique dystopian story written by a celebrated author. Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun was longlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize after he received a multitude of awards for his previous seven novels.
In this story, an artificial friend (AF) has been developed to starve off loneliness for children who have been ‘Lifted’. To be Lifted is to be modified so that one can have future career advantages. The narrator is one such artificial friend named Klara, and the story told through her eyes creates an unreliable perspective of the challenges faced by humans in this futuristic world.
Klara is a special AF and is charged with caring for Josie, a young teenager who has become quite ill. Klara is observant, adaptable and intelligent, and because of her own solar charging, comes to believe that the sun is a powerful God.
The tone becomes dark and ominous when the desperate motives of Josie’s parents are revealed. Klara appeals to the Sun for help as she grapples with her understanding of what it is to love another.
With themes of hope, love and science, this is a story with many twists and turns. The reader will find themselves flip-flopping between sympathies for different characters, while the voice of Klara remains consistent and unique throughout the story.
What's this about?
As a lover of books and a teacher, I read widely. Here you will find book reviews of many genres including picture story, middle grade fiction, graphic novels, women's fiction, short story anthologies, non-fiction and anything else that takes my fancy.