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When Stars Are Scattered

By: Victoria Jamieson

Omar Mohamed

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future…but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.

Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.

Afterword with photographs. Authors’ notes. Full-color illustrations.

ISBN: 9780525553915

JLG Release: Jun 2020


Sensitive Areas: Violence: War/Harsh Realities of War
Topics: Graphic novels , Omar Mohamed (social worker) , Somalian refugees , Kenyan refugee camps , Brothers

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

The Horn Book Magazine*, School Library Journal*, Kirkus Reviews*, Publishers Weekly*, Booklist*

School Library Journal

Perennial comic book favorite Jamieson teams up with Mohamed, a Somalian refugee, to tell a heartbreaking story inspired by Mohamed’s life. Cared for by kind Fatuma, an older woman who also lost her family, Omar and his little brother Hassan have lived in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya since they were small, when their father was killed and the Perennial comic book favorite Jamieson teams up with Mohamed, a Somalian refugee, to tell a heartbreaking story inspired by Mohamed’s life. Cared for by kind Fatuma, an older woman who also lost her family, Omar and his little brother Hassan have lived in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya since they were small, when their father was killed and they were separated from their mother while fleeing civil war. Though Omar loves looking after Hassan, who is mostly nonverbal, life in the camp, where “it felt like all you ever did was wait,” is stultifying and grindingly difficult. When Omar has the opportunity to attend school, he and his friends realize that they can increase their families’ painfully slim chances at being chosen for resettlement. Heavier on text compared with Jamieson’s usual fare, this title still features the expressive, gentle style of Roller Girl or All’s Faire in Middle School—the language of cartoons makes the subject matter accessible to a middle grade audience. Indeed, the authors highlight moments of levity and sweetness as the children and their families do their best to carve out meaningful lives in the bleakest of circumstances. An afterword and author’s notes go into greater detail about Mohamed’s life, how the two met and decided to collaborate, which elements of the story are fictitious, and how to help other refugees. With this sensitive and poignant tale, Jamieson and Mohamed express the power of the human spirit to persevere.

Horn Book

This poignant graphic novel about growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp is based on co-author Mohamed’s experiences as an orphaned Somali refugee. The narrative focuses primarily on Omar’s fierce protection of Hassan, his younger brother who has limited verbal communication and who suffers occasional seizures. When the highly intelligent and comp This poignant graphic novel about growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp is based on co-author Mohamed’s experiences as an orphaned Somali refugee. The narrative focuses primarily on Omar’s fierce protection of Hassan, his younger brother who has limited verbal communication and who suffers occasional seizures. When the highly intelligent and compassionate Omar is encouraged by supportive adults to pursue his education, he does so reluctantly (“I felt torn in half. Should I go to school? Or should I stay with my family?”). Years of studying, turmoil over resettlement, and near-debilitating ennui follow. Omar and Hassan eventually find themselves as teenagers poised for resettlement to America, but not without the cost of abandoning the relationships they’ve developed at the camp. The brothers’ difficult lives at the refugee camp are complexly conveyed through engaging past/present narration, artful repetition, and Jamieson’s (Roller Girl, rev. 3/15) confident cartooning (full-color not seen). Multi-paneled layouts are regularly layered over singular background spreads, creating visual depth, while text-rich captions and substantial dialogue drive the narrative. Tragedy is certainly present throughout the story, yet Mohamed and Jamieson’s focus on deep familial love and education works to subvert many refugee stereotypes. Back matter includes photographs, an illuminating afterword, and two authors’ notes (in Jamieson’s, she shares her connection to Mohamed, along with her process for adapting his story into a graphic novel).

Book Details

ISBN

9780525553915

First Release

June 2020

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

B

Trim Size

8.3 x 5.5

Page Count

264

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Dial

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Violence: War/Harsh Realities of War

Topics

Graphic novels, Omar Mohamed (social worker), Somalian refugees, Kenyan refugee camps, Brothers,

Standard MARC Record

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Cover Art

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