The Ones That Disappeared

(2 reviews with an average rating of 4 out of 5)

Publisher: Orion Children’s Books

Esra, Miran and Isa are enslaved children, kidnapped by a ruthless gang after they lost their families fleeing from war. As the book begins, they are locked underground, with only water from the sprinkler to drink. Beaten and brutalised emotionally as well as physically, they still hold onto hope. Finally, they escape their prison, but Miran is separated from the others.

Esra and Isa meet Skeet, a boy who has almost as much to escape from as they do, and with him they create the Riverman out of mud. Can the Riverman lead them to freedom?

Fraillon’s style is powerful and the subject matter important, but the misery and brutality, especially in the first third of the book, makes this a harrowing read. It is best suited to older readers, unafraid to tackle difficult subjects. However, Skeet’s voice provides much-needed humour and the ending is, eventually, happy.

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