The Book That Made Me: James Mayhew 17/07/19
Wisp: A Story of Hope
Idris lives in a refugee camp which is full of people, but where everyone is alone. There are no rivers or seas to swim in and no trees to give shade. One day, a tiny, bright wisp appears in the dirt: an insect-size glowing light that, when it finds the right person, fills them with a memory of their life before the refugee camp: a memory that gives them just a little hope once again.
One night, when the wisp settles before Idris, he waits for it to give him a memory, but none appears: he has never lived anywhere but the refugee camp, so it can’t give him a memory. Instead, it gives him something else: a promise.
Grahame Baker Smith’s haunting and immersive illustration is perfect for this heartbreaking story of hope in the darkest of places; among the deep black and blues come splashes of sunshiny forests and jewelled seas sailed by adventurous sailors.
Zana Fraillon is the author of The Bone Sparrow, a book for older readers about refugee children, and in this picture book she gives younger readers a sense of the plight of refugees, too, but with a carefully measured balance of hope and memory.