cover image When Stars Are Scattered

When Stars Are Scattered

Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. Dial, $20.99 (264p) ISBN 978-0-525-55390-8

Based on coauthor Mohamed’s childhood after fleeing Somalia on foot with his younger brother, this affecting graphic novel follows the brothers’ life in a Kenyan refugee camp. Though loving foster mother Fatuma cares for the boys, Mohamed watches out for his largely nonverbal younger brother, Hassan, who experiences occasional seizures, and is fearful of leaving him even to attend school. Mohamed longs to find their biological mother, and—like nearly everyone in the vast camp—waits for a life-changing, seemingly arbitrary UN interview that will determine whether the boys will be resettled, perhaps in the U.S. or Canada. 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. Expressive, memorable characters by Jamieson (Roller Girl) work and play against backdrops of round-topped UN tents, while 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. Back matter includes photographs of the brothers and authors’ notes. Ages 9–12. (Apr.)