Perfect Picture Book Friday – Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey

Well, folks, the groundhogs have spoken!

And apparently they were not all on the same page!

Punxsutawney Phil said 6 more weeks of winter.

Punxsutawney Phyllis was on the fence at first, but reluctantly ended up concurring with Phil when the sun undeniably came out and cast her shadow in all its beauteous perfection 🙂

Staten Island Chuck (short for Charles G. Hogg VII 🙂 ), who has the best track record of accuracy at 80%, said early spring.  (And you may be pleased to know that the current Chuck is actually a girl… so she’s probably right! 🙂 )

Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam agreed with Chuck.

So as you can see there is some furry headshaking and dispute over what will actually happen.  I guess we’ll all have to just wait and see who is right and who should have stayed in the burrow 🙂

Early spring or no, we can still enjoy Perfect Picture Books!

Although part of me wants to share a cozy fuzzy book today as an antidote to all that’s happening in the world, I think sometimes there’s an important place for more serious books that address meaningful issues in a way kids can manage and appreciate.  So today I have what I consider a very special book to share.


Title: Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey

Written By: Margriet Ruurs

Illustrated By: Nizar Ali Badr

Orca Book Publishers,  October 2016, nonfiction – bilingual edition English/Arabic

Suitable For Ages: all ages

Themes/Topics: family life, geographic location (Syria), war, hardship, refugees, settling in a new life


illustration copyright Nazir Ali Badr 2016

Opening: “‘Rama, wake up!’
the rooster crowed
every morning when we still lived at home

From my warm bed
I listened as Mama prepared breakfast –
bread, yogurt, juicy red tomoatoes
from our garden.

When I was little, not so long ago,
my brother, Sami, our friends and I
played on sunbaked soil.
We laughed, ran across rocks and sand,
free as birds.

When Papa came in from the fields,
he would sit for a time under the orange tree
and tell stories of our ancestors.

Brief Synopsis: (From the publisher’s description) “Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe.”


illustration copyright Nazir Ali Badr 2016

Links To Resources: the foreword of the book tells all about how the author discovered the incredible stone artwork of the artist which inspired the story; the back matter gives information on “how you can make a difference”; the book itself is informational and educational

Why I Like This Book: Although this book deals with a very difficult and sensitive topic, one which has the potential to be upsetting to children, the author handles it so beautifully, so gently, with such poetic language, that the story manages to convey a wealth of information and experience in an accessible and palatable way while maintaining enough emotion to be truly meaningful.  It is really masterfully done.  The story is moving.  The art is exquisite.  The message is one everyone – adults and children alike – needs to hear and understand.  Jane Yolen said that “the text would both break and mend your heart.”  I think that describes it well.  An important book that everyone should have the opportunity to read!  The text is bilingual – English/Arabic.


text copyright Margriet Ruurs 2016, illustration copyright Nazir Ali Badr 2016

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

[Here’s hoping this version will work!  Google forms/spreadsheets does NOT want to cooperate!]

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

29 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday – Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey

  1. David McMullin says:

    I’ve had my eye on this one, and was finally able to add it to my library list today. It looks wonderful. I’m heading to New York next week, and was hoping for a warning trend. I don’t think it’s going to happen. But maybe I can snuggle up with a groundhog to keep warm.

  2. Gabi Snyder says:

    Thanks for sharing this timely and beautifully illustrated book, Susanna. I love that the back matter includes a section on “how to make a difference” because sometimes we (kids and adults) can feel so helpless in the face of sad stories/news. I’ll put in an order request at my library for this one. I may have to buy it, too!

    Here’s the link to my PPBF post:

  3. viviankirkfield says:

    Thank you for reviewing such a relevant picture book, Susanna…I JUST got this book from the library yesterday…and as soon as I post this, I am going to read it!
    My Perfect Picture Book Friday features another brand new 2017 book, BU!NNY’S BOOK CLUB, by Annie Silvestro..and tomorrow, I’ll be interviewing her on Will Write for Cookies. Here’s the link for the PPBF review:

  4. jheitman22 says:

    Sharing more info about this book: I had the joy of sharing a cab ride with Margriet Ruurs many years ago. She is a kind, gentle, talented woman who has traveled the world and shared what she’s learned. She is donating part of the profits from this book to Syrian refugee resettlement efforts in Canada, where she lives. She tells the story of how the book came to be in this interview with the CBC: This is the perfect picture book to share at this time in world history. Thank you!

  5. Wendy says:

    Wow–I’m wondering if the author and illustrator worked together. The title and artwork are so perfectly paired and nuanced. Thanks for pointing me to this one.

  6. globetrottinggrandparents says:

    Susanna, thanks so much for sharing my book. Your kind words brought tears to my eyes. I am so thrilled it is finding its way into so many readers’ hands. Wendy, I did not know the illustrator who still lives in Syria. We are friends now and I am thrilled he will have an income thanks to royalties. Mine are being donated to refugee causes. The publisher did a gorgeous job and makes it available to any school or group as a fundraiser. Thanks again for your kind words. Happy reading!

  7. ingridboydston says:

    Honestly, I probably would have passed by this book if I had seen it before reading your post here. I spend so much energy trying to convince children Not to worry about things I tend to avoid serious picture books ( we deal with plenty of serious issues elsewhere in the day). But I will look for it now. For the children and for myself. Thanks for sharing.

  8. jeanjames926 says:

    This book is relevant despite the difficult topic. The stone artwork is incredible! Such a unique way to illustrate a book. I will definitely be getting this to read with my kids.

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