A hopeful and timely picture book about a spirited little girl living in a refugee camp.
Of all her friends, Abia has been at the Shimelba Refugee Camp the longest—seven years, four months, and sixteen days. Papa says that’s too long and they need a forever home. Until then, though, Abia has something important to do. Be a queen.
Sometimes she’s a noisy queen, banging on her drum as she and Mama wait in the long line for rice to cook for dinner. Sometimes she’s a quiet queen, cuddling her baby cousin to sleep while Auntie is away collecting firewood. And sometimes, when Papa talks hopefully of their future, forever home, Abia is a little nervous. Forever homes are in strange and faraway places—will she still be a queen?
Filled with hope, love, and respect, Wherever I Go is a timely tribute to the strength and courage of refugees around the world.
Mary Wagley Copp has worked for many years in the refugee resettlement community. She was a producer of an Emmy Award–winning documentary on refugee resettlement, which was the inspiration for this book. Her professional life has also included community organizing in Appalachia, teaching in Ecuador, and being executive director of two nonprofit organizations. When she’s not writing, Mary teaches ESL to newcomers in her community. She lives in Westport, Massachusetts, with her husband, their puppy, and their chickens. They have three grown children.
Munir D. Mohammed is a native of Ghana, West Africa, who lives in Providence, Rhode Island. He maintains an active studio practice and does community-based work as a muralist. He is the cofounder of the International Gallery for Heritage and Culture, which provided art and cultural education programming in schools and in the community. Munir received a Master of Arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he is a Teaching Artist for Project Open Door, RISD’s college access program for artistically talented teens attending local urban public high schools.
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (April 21, 2020)
“Beautiful, realistic paintings portray the challenging everyday life of refugees in the northern Ethiopian camp and, notably, show refugee children and adults working, playing, sharing, and making the best out of what they have. . . . A fine addition to children's literature about refugees, resettlement, and resilience.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“This story captures the unequivocal joy of childhood even in the midst of refugee status and resettlement. Acrylic paint illustrations eloquently capture the warm earth tones of East Africa with great attention paid to defining features of the people.”
“Mohammed’s documentary-style paintings sweep across the landscape and close in on interior scenes with equal care. His portraits of Abia and her family have classic, sculptural dimensions. . . . A story of resilience and strength.”