Title: Ziba Came on a Boat
Author: Liz Lofthouse
Illustrator: Robert Ingpen
Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Publishers
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 3.6
Concepts: economics and conflict, scarcity, immigration
Review: Ziba sits on a creaky fishing boat, packed full with other refugees, remembering the life she left behind and hoping for new opportunities ahead. Although they were not wealthy, she and her extended family led happy, productive lives until war reached their peaceful village. Forced to flee with little more than the shirts on their backs, Ziba now sits on the crowded old boat with her mother’s arms wrapped around her, letting her thoughts and dreams change with the temper of the ocean.
Based on actual accounts of Afghani refugees living in Australia, Ziba Came on a Boat is a moving story about how a girl and her family experience the incredibly high social and economic costs of war and conflict. Such a weighty topic is not easy to broach with children, but the hopeful tone, subtle text, and extraordinary illustrations yield a literary work that younger readers can understand without feeling overwhelmed. Long after closing the book, readers may continue to feel Ziba’s steady gaze and appreciate her yearning for freedom.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children