‘Crossing the Farak River’ by Michelle Aung Thin
Fourteen-year-old Hasina is forced to flee everything she knows in this gripping account of the refugee crisis in Myanmar.
For Hasina and her younger brother Araf, the constant threat of Sit Tat, the Myanmar Army, is a way of life in Rakhine province – just uttering the name is enough to send chills down their spines. As Rohingyas, they know that when they hear the wop wop wop of their helicopters there is one thing to do – run, and don’t stop. So, when soldiers invade their village one night, and Hasina awakes to her aunt’s fearful voice, followed by smoke, and then a scream, run is what they do.
Hasina races deep into the Rakhine forest to hide with her cousin Ghadiya and Araf. When they emerge some days later, it is to a smouldering village. Their house is standing but where is the rest of her family? With so many Rohingyas driven out, Hasina must figure out who she can trust for help and summon the courage to fight for her family amid the escalating conflict that threatens her world and her identity.
Fast-paced and accessibly written, Hasina tackles an important topic frequently in the news but little explored in fiction. It is a poignant and thought-provoking introduction for young readers to the military crackdown and ongoing persecution of Rohingya people, from the perspective of a brave and resilient protagonist.
‘I am the Minotaur’ by Anthony McGowan
Matthew is 14 and is struggling to fit in – something that’s extra hard when you’re taking care of your mum, being bullied at school, and have earned the nickname Stinky Mog because of your poor personal hygiene. On top of all that, he wants to catch the attention of one of the coolest girls in school, Ari. Ari doesn’t walk: she floats, like mist on the water. And she’s as sporty as she is cool. When Ari’s brand new bike is stolen, Matthew spots his chance to make a good impression by getting it back for her … but will he just end up in even more trouble or is Matthew is about to learn that friendship and heroes can be found in unlikely places? This is a gritty yet touching story of one teenager’s struggles with bullying and isolation, written by Carnegie Medal Winning author Anthony McGowan.
When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle
1941. World War 2 is raging. And one angry boy has been sent to the city, where bombers rule the skies. There, Joseph will live with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no fondness for children. Her only loves are the rundown zoo she owns and its mighty silverback gorilla, Adonis. As the weeks pass, bonds deepen and secrets are revealed, but if the bombers set Adonis rampaging free, will either of them be able to end the life of the one thing they truly love?
‘Mercy’s Heroes – The Fight for Human Dignity in the Bangkok Slums’ by Tom Crowley
In Mercy’s Heroes, a Vietnam veteran battling with PTSD turns from the business world to life as a volunteer, helping to rescue and protect street kids in Bangkok’s biggest slum.
Here Tom Crowley details the children’s efforts to survive abuse and the struggle for dignity waged by the poorest of families. Interwoven throughout, the author’s combat experiences and pain highlight the question of how to find personal reconciliation amid the struggles of abused children in the slums. In his efforts to help others, he gains a spiritual understanding worth much more than his financial loss. At the same time, he learns, “You must consign the failures to the burden the angels can carry and let go of the guilt.”
This story will resonate with all those who want to gain a deeper insight into social work at the street level. The successes are to be celebrated-the losses mourned. Mercy’s Heroes portrays the healing that is to be found in helping others.
‘Six Crimson Cranes’ by Elizabeth Lim
Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne – a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain – no matter what it costs her.
‘Papaya Salad’ by Elisa Macellari
The debut graphic novel from Thai-Italian illustrator Elisa Macellari, Papaya Salad tells the story of her great-uncle Sompong who found himself in Europe on military scholarship on the eve of World War II.
A gentle and resolute man in love with books and languages, in search of his place in the world, Sompong chronicles his life during the war and falling for his wife, finding humour and joy even as the world changes irrevocably around him
This Winner of the 2019 Autori di Immagini Silver Medal in the Comics category tells the human story of the War, from a perspective not typically seen.