Refugee
Refugee

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Annotation: Although separated by continents and decades, Josef, a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany; Isabel, a Cuban girl trying to escape the unrest plaguing her country in 1994; and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy in 2015, discover shocking connections.
Catalog Number: #143559
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 338 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-545-88083-1 Perma-Bound: 0-605-98228-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-545-88083-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-98228-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017017544
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
After the horror of Kristallnacht, Josef's family knows it's time to leave Germany. In 1994, Isabel hunts for gasoline for the homemade boat that will help her family and neighbors flee Cuba. In 2015, Mahmoud's family is shell-shocked from the long war in Syria, hoping a perilous trek out of Aleppo can bring them to a more peaceful land. Gratz's triptych of alternating refugee stories delivers a gut-wrenching look at the terror of escaping a homeland that offers only repression or death. The young narrators are strongly rendered players in their own family dramas. Josef details the betrayal of Jewish refugees on board the St. Louis, denied asylum by Cuba in 1939. Isabel recounts the shark attack on her flimsy boat in open waters. Mahmoud knows he will "never forget that feeling of paralyzing terror, of powerlessness" in the face of death and humiliation as he bravely soldiers on to Europe. Some readers may prefer to read each story sequentially rather than in separated chapters, but this is a haunting fictional treatment of historic events.
Horn Book
Gratz's stirring novel humanizes the plight of refugees worldwide. Alternating chapters follow fictional child refugees from three different eras and nations--Josef in 1939 Germany, Isabel in 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud in 2015 Syria--whose stories ultimately, and surprisingly, converge. The narrative keeps readers on edge throughout these perilous, wrenching journeys but allows for poetic turns during quieter moments of reflection.
Publishers Weekly
In this hard-hitting novel, Gratz (Projekt 1065) skillfully intertwines the stories of three protagonists seeking asylum with their respective families. Twelve-year-old Josef is fleeing Nazi Germany on a ship headed for Cuba in 1939; in 1994, 11-year-old Isabel leaves Cuba for the United States aboard a boat; and 12-year-old Mahmoud leaves Syria in 2015 after a bomb destroys his family-s apartment building. Though set in different political landscapes, the harrowing narratives share a sense of urgency, danger, and sacrifice, and the brief chapters keep each story fresh in readers- minds. Each character confronts exceptional challenges: Josef must behave as the adult when his father returns shattered from a concentration camp, and Mahmoud realizes that the invisibility he cultivated in Aleppo is less of an asset in Greece (-They only see us when we do something they don-t want us to do-). Filled with both tragic loss and ample evidence of resilience, these memorable and tightly plotted stories contextualize and give voice to current refugee crises, underscoring that these journeys are born out of a desperate need for security and safety. Ages 9-12. Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (July)

School Library Journal
Gr 57Gratz presents three interrelated stories about surviving. The tales center on children and their families who are driven from their homes by war, violence, and unrest. Josef must leave Nazi-controlled Germany with his mother, his sister, and his mentally broken father (just returned to them from Auschwitz). He sails across the Atlantic Ocean on the ill-fated St. Louis only to be turned away from Cuba and returned to Europe. Isabel and her family live in Cuba and escape on a makeshift raft during the exodus in the 1990s. They flee the repression and poverty of Fidel Castro's rule. Mahmoud, a Syrian boy, and his family seek refuge from the ongoing war and violence in their home city of Aleppo. They board a dinghy in order to cross the Aegean sea from Turkey to Greece. All the entries share elements of hardship, fear, and trauma and stress the power of love, family, and incredible sacrifice. Gratz, who is known for well-written and well-researched historical fiction, doesn't disappoint. His latest is timely and moving. VERDICT This compelling novel will help young people make sense of today's refugee crisis. Meant to be read, discussed, and shared widely. A first purchase.Patricia Feriano, Montgomery County Public Schools, MD
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you've ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school-aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact. Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: "See us….Hear us. Help us." With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar. Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author's note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)
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Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
ALA Booklist (Mon Feb 01 00:00:00 CST 2016)
Horn Book (Sun Apr 01 00:00:00 CDT 2018)
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (Sat Jul 01 00:00:00 CDT 2017)
Wilson's Children's Catalog
Wilson's Junior High Catalog
Word Count: 65,915
Reading Level: 5.3
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.3 / points: 10.0 / quiz: 190739 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.3 / points:17.0 / quiz:Q71771
Lexile: 800L
Pak! A pistol rang out again over the waves, and the crowd on the beach cried out in panic. The pistol fired again -- pak! -- and -- ping! -- the hull of the Castillos' boat rang as the bullet hit it.

The police were shooting at them! But why? Didn't Castro say it was all right to leave?

Isabel's eyes fell on Luis and his girlfriend, and she understood. They had been drafted into the police, and they weren't allowed to leave. They were deserters, and deserters were shot.

The motor coughed to life, and the boat lurched into a wave, spraying Isabel with seawater. The villagers on the beach cheered for them, and Sr. Castillo revved the engine, leaving the charging policemen in their wake.

Isabel braced herself between two of the benches, trying to catch her breath. It took her a moment to process it, but this was really happening. They were leaving Cuba, her village, her home -- everything she'd ever known -- behind.

Isabel's father pitched across the roiling boat and grabbed Sr. Castillo by the shirt. "What are you playing at, letting them on board?" he demanded. "What if they follow us? What if they send a navy boat after us? You've put us all in danger!"

Sr. Castillo batted Geraldo Fernandez's arms away. "We didn't ask you to come along!"

"It's our gasoline!" Isabel's father yelled.

They kept arguing, but the engine and the slap of the boat against the waves drowned their words out for Isabel. She wasn't paying any attention anyway. All she could think about was the ninety miles they still had to go, and the water pouring in from the gunshot hole in the side of the boat.

Excerpted from Refugee by Alan Gratz
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Discussion Guide: Refugee Discussion Guide

A New York Times bestseller!

JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .

ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . .

MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .

All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers -- from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end.

This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.


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