Gervelie’s Journey: A Refugee Diary by Anthony Robinson and Annemarie Young; Illustrated by June Allan
July 26, 2010 in Books With Social Studies Content, character education, Elementary Educators, Genocide, Helping Girls and Women Around the World, Making Personal Connections, multicultural books, Picture Book, Preschool to 1st grade teachers, service learning projects Tags: A Refugee Diary, African refugees, Annemarie Young, Anthony Robinson, Gervelie's Journey, June Allan
What some children go through in our world is unbelievable, scary, tragic. It is hard for some of us, especially in the United States and Canada, to imagine how life can be like this–how people can kill one another over religion and race, how people can be so greedy to kill for land or cash crops. But it happens, and children are affected every day.
I found this book, Gervelie’s Journey: A Refugee Diary, at our local library, and I recommend it to everyone. Teachers–share it with your students; parents–share it with your children. It tells the story of Gervelie, who was born in the Republic of Congo and lived in a nice house in Brazzaville, until her family had to flee to safety when fighting broke out in 1997. First, she moved around Africa with her dad, then her mom, and then her grandmother. But whenever she seemed to settle in a new place, trouble started again. In 2001, when fighting occurred in the Ivory Coast, she and her dad fled to Europe. When they finally arrived in England, her dad asked for asylum. In England, Gervelie has been in three different cities, finally settling in Norwich, England.
This book is POWERFUL because it is told in first person–in Gervelie’s words. When the fighting first broke out in Brazzaville, she was 2 years old. When she finally landed at a home with her dad in Norwich, England, she was 9 years old. Can you imagine all of this war, fighting, moving and so on happening to you when you were between the ages of 2 and 9? Can you imagine not seeing or talking to your mom? What about leaving your home and not being able to go back for fear of being killed? All of this has happened to Gervelie.
The other thing that makes this book so powerful is the way that June Allan’s illustrations are mixed with actual photographs of Gervelie and war-torn Africa. Putting a real face with a true story is something that kids and adults WON’T forget.
When you are talking to kids about giving to others or starting service learning projects in your school or home or church, think about sharing books like Gervelie’s Journey because they will help children understand whom they are working for.