Tag Archives: Refugees

the stars at oktober bend by Glenda Millard

14 Mar

Australian author Glenda Millard is highly respected for her work in her home country and deserves to be as well-known and respected in the UK. Old Barn Books are releasing her works to a wider audience and the stars at oktober bend had me wowed.


‘Alice Nightingale writes about how it is to have perfect thoughts that come out in slow, slurred speech. She imagines herself stepping into clear midair with wings made of words and feathers.

Manny James runs at night, trying to escape memories of his past. He sees Alice on the roof of her river-house, looking like a figurehead on a ship sailing through the stars. He has a poem in his pocket and he knows the words by heart. He is sure that the girl has written them.

Alice longs to be everything a fifteen-year-old girl can be. And when she sees the running boy she is anchored to the earth by her desire to see him again.’

Glenda Millard’s writing is beautiful. Evocative and lyrical, the stars at oktober bend explores the healing power of creativity and hope and the importance of family – however it is formed.

Alice and Manny are both survivors. Alice from a violent assault and Manny from war in his home country. Both are learning to live and trust again and to move on from the guilt they feel over the loss of their families. Despite the premise, this book sings of hope. It is in the poems Alice writes, the intricate fishing flies she makes from feathers, and in the way trust develops friendships into family. the stars at oktober bend opens our eyes to the darkness in the world – and feels very relevant in these times of Trump – but it also shines a light. In the words of Alice, ‘if we let cowards stop us living the way we want to, we let them win.’

A special mention, too, for Ruth Grüner’s stunning cover design which manages to echo the book perfectly.

Old Barn Books are releasing a further novel by Glenda Millard. Keep your eyes open for A Small Free Kiss in the Dark this summer.

Source – bought from my lovely local indie bookshop, Bags of Books in Lewes.

The Journey by Francesca Sanna 

15 Apr


I think this book might be perfect. 

‘What is it like to have to leave everything behind and travel many miles to somewhere unfamiliar and strange? A mother and her two children set out on such a journey; one filled with fear of the unknown, but also great hope.

Based on her own interactions with people forced to seek a new home, and told from the perspective of a young child, Francesca Sanna has created a beautiful and sensitive book that is full of significance for our time.’

I have been using social media to post about politics a lot lately. I think it’s important to share; to raise awareness and do our bit. Signing a petition, sharing a meme, just talking about this stuff, might feel like a drop in the ocean but it all adds together to make a wave. 

Another thing you can do is talk to your kids. Share books with them. Watch CBBC’s newsround together. Answer their questions. Because, as Whitney said, they are our future, and helping them to understand, and to get it – to grow up to be empathetic and kind – could be what fixes everything. 

This book is…everything. So beautifully done, it tells the stories of migration in a brilliantly child friendly way. It links their migration with nature and shows their hopes and fears through the stories they tell each other. All things that will help you talk your kids through this book, through newsround, and hopefully, then, to the new kids in their classes and into a future that is less bomby and bordery and more inclusive and smiley. 

It’s a book that will work across a wide age range, making it perfect (and vital!) for schools and libraries. The illustrations and text are layered with meaning and act as a jumping board for discussion. This double page spread is a favourite of mine and a great example:

Look at how the left page is brighter and full of colours and nature. The right page is darker and some of the natural elements are replaced with threatening hand shadows and eyes. Younger children will be able to take the text as they hear it but older children will find so much here to think about and question. 

Beautiful, relevant, important. 

You can order your copy from Indy-bookshop-friendly, tax-paying Hive.co.uk here.