Published: July 2020
Author: Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
Published by: Faber Faber
Genre: Graphic Novel
Length: 264 pages
Reading dates: 10-12 November 2020
Omar and his brother Hassan, two Somali boys, have spent a long time in the Dadaab refugee camp. Separated from their mother, they are looked after by a friendly stranger. Life in the camp isn’t always easy. The hunger is constant . . . but there’s football to look forward to, and now there’s a chance Omar will get to go to school . . .
I came across When Stars Are Scattered on Instagram where a couple of Bookstagrammers I admire were raving about it. This brilliant and moving graphic novel looks at the lives of Omar and Hassan who have lived in the Dadaab refugee camp for seven long years after they were separated from their parents. They are cared for by Fatuma, their foster mum, who was assigned to them by the UN but whom has come to love and care for the boys as if they are her own. Hassan doesn’t talk and sometimes suffers from seizures. They don’t have enough food and can’t see a way of ever leaving the camp.
The book covers several years in the camp and follows Omar being able to attend school and his friendships with the other refugees, and the chance of relocation to America.
Aimed at children aged 8-12, this is a wonderful true story that details the civil war in Somalia and the plight of the refugees whom are left homeless by the war. It is an important read but told in a very accessible way, especially suitable for reluctant readers. The illustrations are deceivingly simple but convey the emotions of the characters brilliantly.
The afterword includes some photographs of Omar and Hassan and describes what happens to them after the story ends. A story of resilience and hope, I found this really moving. An important read for adults and children alike.
About the author
Victoria Jamieson is the creator of the 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 full-time illustrator. She has also worked as a portrait artist aboard a cruise ship, and has lived in Australia, Italy, and Canada. She maintained a not-so-secret identity as Winnie the Pow, skater with the Rose City Rollers roller derby league and has a not-so-secret past as a Renaissance Faire groupie. She lives with her family in Easton, PA.