By Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
Why this book?
I fell in love with this picture book when I first spotted it at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in 2019. With its simply but beautifully illustrated animal characters, The Suitcase manages to tap into universal truths of the refugee experience, of childhood, and of being human, all at the same time. The book suggests that the best way to put broken lives back together is through kindness and trust. And yet it is not overly sweet. The characters wrestle with the fear of ‘other’ and with the forces of right and wrong. The symbols (the suitcase, teacup, chairs…) are powerful but rendered with a light touch. Lastly, I love the implied diversity of the (animal) characters themselves. Who among us has not been the ‘other’ in some setting?
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