Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey
Written by Margriet Ruurs
Artwork by Nizar Ali Badr
Orca Book Publishers, 2016
This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs. The author was immediately impressed by the strong narrative quality of Mr. Badr’s work, and, using many of Mr. Badr’s already-created pieces, she set out to create a story about the Syrian refugee crisis.
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. Nizar Ali Badr’s stunning stone images illustrate the story.
Orca Book Publishers is pleased to offer this book as a dual-language (English and Arabic) edition.
Stepping Stones is a powerful, intriguing, informative, evocative, entertaining book.
New York Magazine – February 8, 2017
A gateway to discussing refugees and immigration with America’s youngest citizens…Teaching kids empathy—this is where it starts.
Horn Book Magazine – February 6, 2017
“Ordinary beach stones were used to make the three-dimensional collages in this arresting picture book…Stone by stone, step by step, it all adds up to a memorable look at what it means to leave one’s home in search of ‘a bright new future.'”
Canadian Children’s Book News – October 20, 2016
“Ruurs’ beautiful words are twinned with the most stunning artwork by Nizar Ali Badr…I could not but be moved by Badr’s work, as it is unlike anything else I have ever seen and conveys so much emotion. I hope this beautiful book will reach the shelves of classrooms, libraries and homes throughout the world and be read and shared many times over.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review – August 1, 2016
“Ruurs writes purely and warmly, with the text set in both English and Raheem’s Arabic translation…She deftly conveys the happiness of peaceful childhood, then the confusion and the fears born of war and migration, and the relief and curiosity of arriving at a new home…Each illustration is masterful, with Badr’s placement of stones as careful as brush strokes, creating figures positioned to tell the whole story without the benefit of facial expressions…An astonishing book that allows the humanity of refugees to speak louder than politics and introduces readers to one of Syria’s incredible artists.”
Resource Links – October 19, 2016
“What a wonderful book!…The illustrations are amazing, created totally from stones…They poignantly display the plight of this family as they leave all they have known behind to seek a new life…This book would be a wonderful way to introduce young children to the refugee crisis that is happening in other parts of the world. Especially now when we have some of these refugee children in our own classrooms throughout the country, the book might inspire some of these children to share their experiences. I would highly recommend this book for every primary and elementary school in the country.”
It’s exquisite! One can only pray that its message will spread and make the difference we need.
– Mem Fox, award-winning and internationally bestselling children’s book author
Ruurs writes purely and warmly, with the text set in both English and Raheem’s Arabic translation…She deftly conveys the happiness of peaceful childhood, then the confusion and the fears born of war and migration, and the relief and curiosity of arriving at a new home…Each illustration is masterful, with Badr’s placement of stones as careful as brush strokes, creating figures positioned to tell the whole story without the benefit of facial expressions…An astonishing book that allows the humanity of refugees to speak louder than politics and introduces readers to one of Syria’s incredible artists.
– Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Brilliant and beautiful and inspiring. A book that should be read with every child in the world! An instant classic as solid as the stones on which it is based!
Eric Walters, award-winning author and member of the Order of Canada
Stepping Stones has raised nearly $100,000.- for refugees. It has led to quilt creations inspired by Nizar’s art, displays of book and art in churches, synagogues, temples and mosques around the world. Children have created stone art, paintings and poems based on the book. It was selected as one of few books from around the world that best illustrate Pope Francis’ message to Young Humanitarians. It continues to cause a ripple effect and create awareness.
Stepping Stones has been published in many different languages, including Japanese, German, Turkish, Australian, Korean, Dutch, Vietnamese and more.
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2016
Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize, 2017
Short-listedBank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year 2017
CL/R SIG International Reading Association Notable Books for a Global Society
CCBC Best Books starred selection
Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize, 2017
Winner Middle East Book Award
Runner-upRocky Mountain Book Award | 2018 | Short-listed
Teacher’s Guide (75Kb PDF)
CBC also produces a video about the making of Stepping Stones: https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/971968579669