Refuge, by Anne Booth and illustrated by Sam Usher

During my work experience at Nosy Crow (a fantastic independent children’s publisher), I had the privilege to come across a truly moving picture book, Refuge.

Refuge is a retelling of the Christmas Nativity story, portraying the birth of Jesus Christ and the journey Jesus, Mary and Joseph embark upon to reach Egypt. Instead of concentrating on the religious significance of Jesus’ birth, the story focuses on the family’s hardship in fleeing Jerusalem in search of safety.

The well known story is touchingly told through the perspective of the donkey who carries the family during their voyages. This illustrates the exhausting, frightening journey in an elegant and sensitive way, which I believe endears the story even more to children.

I immediately fell in love with Refuge. Firstly, its fresh perspective ensures the book is a magnificent edition to anyone’s shelf, even if they already have a collection of Nativity stories. Also, the illustrations produced by Sam Usher are so emotive and enchanting, created in the perfect style to complement the classic tale. But, most importantly, Booth employs the Christmas story to shine a revealing light on the refuge crisis occurring in the world today. Booth “hoped that retelling this part of the story would help people empathise with refugees today”. I truly believe that this story could open the eyes of people who are less than sympathetic of the refugees desperation to find new life and safety in other countries.

Nobly, Nosy Crow published Refuge in aid of the charity War Child. The publisher asked for all the organisations involved in the books’ production to make no profit on the work, or discount their required fees. Nosy Crow will make no profit on the £7.99 book, enabling £5 to go to War Child, to support children and their families who have been caught in devastating conflicts and forced to become refugees.

I was shocked to find out that Refuge was published for the 2015 Christmas season, as I had not heard of it, or seen it in bookshops before. It is a powerful and very important book, not only for children to read.

You can read about the book’s purpose and see a few of its page spreads on Nosy Crow’s website here.

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