Wisp: a Story of Hope
Zana Fraillon & Grahame Baker-Smith
(Orchard Books)

One evening, a Wisp of air  floats in a refugee camp. A little boy called Idris notices it and with his help, the Wisp visits inhabitants of the camp, helping them to remember life before the camp. Out of those memories, Hope grows once again. But what about Idris, who knows nothing beyond the camp? This  is a powerful, heart-wrenching tale, which highlights how camps dehumanise refugees and how vital it is for people to hold on to who they are, where they come from, and never let go of Hope. Fraillon has created a story in tone with her novels while making the theme accessible to a much younger audience, which is greatly aided by Baker-Smith’s artwork. Much is left unsaid, told in the stunning pictures, conveying both the darkness of the camp and the magic of memories. Baker-Smith’s play with light and air are truly breath-taking. An important story, superbly told.


The Lost Book
Margarita Surnaite
(Andersen Press)

Henry the rabbit lives in a world where books are everywhere and everyone loves reading; except him. When he finds a lost book, looking for its owner leads him to a world opposite to his: there is not one book in sight and people are glued to screens instead. How will he find his way home?
Using a great mix of panels and full-bleed spreads, this is a lovely tale of the power of stories and their ability to unite people. Yet it also offers a stern warning as to what happens if we let technology take over, offering a peek into an almost dystopian book-free version of our world. This message is undoubtedly aimed at the adult co-reader: the little girl’s dad being shown constantly on his phone is very effective. Soft lines and colours as well as a happy ending ensure that this story does not feel ominous to its young readers however, focusing instead on the joy books bring.
A début well worth looking out for!