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Anne Booth and Sam Usher
Nosy Crow
Anyone who has been watching the news over recent months and seen the refugees fleeing, desperately seeking safety from Syria and other conflict-ridden countries cannot fail to be moved to the core by this heart-achingly beautiful rendering of the Christmas story, in particular, the flight into Egypt of Mary, Joseph and their new baby. Now today, just before writing this review, I have heard Chris Morris on the World at One reporting from Malta saying that the Mediterranean has become a graveyard for all too many who had hoped to find refuge.
I admit to having tears in my eyes as I read Anne Booth’s spare prose. By using the donkey as narrator, she makes the whole thing feel much more intimate and immediate: ‘When the last king left, the scent of frankincense lingering in the air, we all slept and the man had a dream. A dream of danger. …

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And we set off … under starlight, through empty streets, whilst people were sleeping, hoping for the kindness of strangers. Again.’

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Achingly poignant too in their stark simplicity, are Sam Usher’s largely grey, black and white illustrations. Rendered in watercolours and ink they evoke the spirit of the precarious plight of families fleeing both then and now.
May others, like myself and like that oil lamp strategically centrally placed in that final scene of Sam’s, to borrow a phrase from Auden, ‘show an affirming flame.’ 

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Indeed, the creators of this book – author, illustrator and publisher (and others listed on the copyright page) have all collaborated to get this to publication in just six weeks and £5 for every copy sold will go to the publishers’ partner charity, War Child.

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One thought on “Refuge

  1. Refuge is a very timely book, which as Jill Bennett has so movingly reviewed and commented on is so much more than another telling of the Christmas story.

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