After their father was killed and they were separated from their mother, Omar and his brother Hassan fled Somalia and have been living in a Kenyan refugee camp for seven years. Omar spends his days taking care of mostly nonverbal Hassan, who is prone to seizures. School seems like an impossibility until Omar finds out higher education could be the key to getting relocated by the UN. The book follows the next eight years of their lives, and it is a heartrending, unforgettable window into what these refugees are suffering every day. I found myself tearing up at various points as I read: for triumphs celebrated, for losses felt, for injustice and hopelessness that seemed overwhelming. A fictionalized account of coauthor Omar Mohamed’s experiences, this emotional, hopeful book is a must-read. — From Cortney's Picks (page 2)
Spring 2020 Kids Indie Next List
“A timely, powerful, and important book for our time. This memoir of a childhood largely spent in a Kenyan refugee camp is skillfully adapted into a graphic novel. The combined talents of Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson result in a harrowing yet triumphant portrait of life as a refugee. Readers feel Omar’s gnawing, constant worry; we revel in his unflagging hope for a better future. When Stars Are Scattered, a story of great hardship, affirms the power of resilience and goodness to remake lives.”
— Christopher Rose, The Spirit of '76 Bookstore, Marblehead, MA
A National Book Award Finalist, this remarkable graphic novel is about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a former Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl.
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.
Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It's an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.
About the Author
Victoria Jamieson is the co-creator of the National Book Award finalist When Stars Are Scattered and the creator of the graphic novels All's Faire in Middle School and Newbery Honor winner Roller Girl. She received her BFA in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design and worked as a children's book designer before becoming a freelance illustrator. She has also worked as a portrait artist aboard a cruise ship, and has lived in Australia, Italy, and Canada. Now she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son.
Omar Mohamed is co-creator of the National Book Award finalist When Stars Are Scattered, based on his childhood growing up in the Dadaab refugee camp, after his father was killed and he was separated from his mother in Somalia. He devoted everything to taking care of his younger brother, Hassan, and to pursuing his education. He now lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with his wife and five children, and is the founder of Refugee Strong, a non-profit organization that empowers students living in refugee camps.
Iman Geddy, the colorist for this book, is an Atlanta-based designer and illustrator who is passionate about using the graphic arts for social good. Inspired by the geometric harmony of Islamic architecture as well as the colorful equatorial landscapes of eastern Africa, she creates striking art that highlights the beauty of the world around us.
A New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Finalist
Schneider Family Book Award, Middle School Honor
YALSA Great Graphic Novel for Teens
YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Nominee
Walter Award Winner (Younger Readers)
Amazon Best Children’s Book of 2020
New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book
TIME Best Book of the Year
School Library Journal Best Book of 2020
Kirkus Best Children’s Book of 2020
NYPL Best Book for Kids
NPR's Book Concierge Pick
Jane Addams Children's Book Award Finalist
Charlotte Huck Award Honor Book
2021 ALSC Notable Children’s Books List
2021 Children’s Africana Book Award Honor Book
2021 Josette Frank Award Winner
2021 Notable Books for a Global Society List
2021 Kids’ Book Choice Award Winner
★ "Jamieson's characteristically endearing art, warmly colored by Geddy, perfectly complements Omar's story, conjuring memorable and sympathetic characters who will stay with readers long after they close the book . . . This engaging, heartwarming story does everything one can ask of a book, and then some.” —Kirkus, starred review
★ "With this sensitive and poignant tale, Jamieson and Mohamed express the power of the human spirit to persevere." —School Library Journal, starred review
★ "Tragedy is certainly present throughout the story, yet Mohamed and Jamieson’s focus on deep familial love and education works to subvert many refugee stereotypes." —Horn Book, starred review
★ "Mohamed's experience is unfortunately not unique, but it is told with grace, humility, and forgiveness. This beautiful memoir is not to be missed." —Booklist, starred review
★ "Jamieson and Mohamed together craft a cohesive, winding story that balances daily life and boredom, past traumas, and unforeseen outcomes alongside camp denizens’ ingenuity and community . . . colorist Iman Geddy’s deep purple skies drive home the title. The result of this team effort is a personal and poignant entry point for young readers trying to understand an unfair world." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ "The graphic novel presentation and first person narration from the young narrator creates an immediacy and connection with the events of the story. Readers are quickly drawn into Omar’s world and worry for him and his friends." —School Library Connection
"Over the next fifteen years chronicled in this moving, slightly fictionalized graphic novel, the boys grow to manhood in an overcrowded tent city . . . Jamieson’s artwork, affectionately depicting resilient kids who manage to carve out lives in a community with few solid prospects, reprises the inviting ebullience readers will recognize from Roller Girl and All’s Faire." —BCCB
YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers