Pajama Press

Posts Tagged ‘syria’

My Beautiful Birds “is a tale of sorrow and suffering and promise” says CanLit for LittleCanadians

Posted on February 17th, 2017 by pajamapress

mybeautifulbirds_website“In My Beautiful Birds, author-illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo offers a poignant story of a Syrian child refugee traumatized by leaving his cherished pigeons behind. It is a tale of sorrow and suffering and promise, and beautifully rendered in Suzanne Del Rizzo’s distinctive art….

The sadness and trauma in this little boy’s life is so palpable, from the family’s departure to their adjustment to the refugee camp and to the despondency that permeates Sami’s new life. Through use of colour and the texture of her art–here polymer clay with acrylics–Suzanne Del Rizzo balances the shadows of war and trauma with the bright colours of youthful exuberance and pastels of hope for a future. There’s the tumultuous skies and the ordinary days, and the anger of loss with the chirpiness of birds and children at play. I know the excellence of her art, complex in the depth of detail and its ability to evoke emotions. But Suzanne Del Rizzo has demonstrated a new depth to her writing. Perhaps it’s the tragic circumstances of the story but Suzanne Del Rizzo has put heart and hope into her words, giving breath to a staggering situation, suffusing it with some degree of optimism where there is so little. My Beautiful Birds provides a promise that all the darkness from that Syrian skyline of smoke is behind Sami and remains open to a bright sky of birds and lightness, the landscape of his future.”

Click here to read the full review

CM Magazine admires the “outstanding artwork” in My Beautiful Birds

Posted on February 8th, 2017 by pajamapress

mybeautifulbirds_website“Suzanne Del Rizzo both wrote and illustrated My Beautiful Birds. The illustrations are mixed media, including plasticine, polymer clay, and acrylic. The plasticine and clay provide colourful yet dimensional illustrations to accompany the story. Two of my favourite illustrations are the powerful images of Sami’s painting of his beloved pigeon becoming covered in black smears, and, on the following page, the clouds in the purple and pink sky transforming into birds.

The topics of Syria and the refugee crisis are so timely and important that I’m very pleased Pajama Press has produced a picture book to address not only the topics but also the human emotions around them….written in simple words, My Beautiful Birds is very poetic with a significant amount of depth and symbolism….The outstanding artwork, along with the multi-faceted themes, would give older elementary readers much to discuss and explore.

Because of its timely content and poignant illustrations, My Beautiful Birds is a worthwhile purchase for home, school, and public libraries.”
Dr. Kristen Ferguson

Click here to read the full review

My Beautiful Birds is highly praised by Youth Services Book Review

Posted on February 8th, 2017 by pajamapress

mybeautifulbirds_websiteWhat did you like about the book? Sami, a recent Syrian refugee, explores his very powerful, personal perspective of the pain, healing and hope of his resettlement ordeal. Suzanne Del Rizzo’s incredible attention to each detail in the story line, dialogue and exceptionally detailed polymer clay and acrylic art work of the landscape and living conditions, beautifully combines to allow the reader to absorb the profound emotional loss that Sami has experienced and continues daily. The hopeful symbolism of reconnecting with his beloved birds begins his self-healing process that takes flight in the community and spreads as he welcomes his newest refugee friend. I appreciated that the book did not explain, blame or discuss any political themes, leaving these questions outside Sami’s innocent mind, allowing him to focus on reality, humanity and survival. I hope this book inspires others to realize the daily plight of refugees. I appreciated the “Author’s Note” on the last page that simply outlined facts about the refugee crisis, sadly noting that half of those displaced are innocent children like Sami.

Anything you didn’t like about it? NO, it was well thought out and executed beautifully.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Everyone that works in any small way for social justice and peace, parents that want to expose and inspire young children to social justice issues, ministers, religious education teachers., community organizers.”
Diane Neylon

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Pickle Me This says My Beautiful Birds helps us to “recognize the humanity common to all of us”

Posted on February 8th, 2017 by pajamapress

mybeautifulbirds_website“In Suzanne Del Rizzo’s picture book, My Beautiful Birds, a young Syrian boy is forced to leave his wartorn home and make the long journey to the relative safety of a refugee camp. The story is enlivened by Del Rizzo’s plasticine illustrations with their rich purple and golden hues. Of all the things that Sami has left behind, it’s his pigeons he misses the most, the birds he fed and kept and as pets….Where he finds solace, though, is in the sky, one thing that is familiar to him, ‘wait[ing] like a loyal friend for me to remember.’ In the clouds, he sees the shapes of his birds: ‘Spiralling. Soaring. Sharing the sky.’”

Click here to read the full review

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast gives a positive review to My Beautiful Birds

Posted on February 8th, 2017 by pajamapress

mybeautifulbirds_website“Coming to shelves in March is Suzanne Del Rizzo’s My Beautiful Birds (Pajama Press), a new book specifically about Syrian refugees. Rendered in bright and textured polymer clay and acrylic, it’s the story of a boy named Sami, leaving his Syrian home (with a sky full of smoke) to escape war….

Del Rizzo writes in an arresting first-person, present-tense voice, the story coming straight from the boy’s point of view and giving us a glimpse into his inner turmoil….In a closing author’s note, she summarizes the plight of Syrian refugees, singling out the work of the United Nations Refugee Agency. In her bio, she notes what prompted this story — reading about a boy who “took solace in a connection with wild birds at the Za’atari refugee camp” in Jordan and being struck by “the universality of a child’s relationship to animals.”

Click here to read the full review

“Beauty and sorrow sit side by side” in My Beautiful Birds, says The Horn Book Magazine

Posted on February 1st, 2017 by pajamapress

mybeautifulbirds_website“At the start of the emotional tale My Beautiful Birds by Suzanne Del Rizzo, Sami and his family climb a hill while their Syrian village burns in the background below. They continue walking for a day and two nights until they reach a refugee camp: “Helpful hands welcome us in. We made it. We are safe.” But Sami is still scared, and he is heartbroken over the loss of his beloved pet pigeons, even though his father reassures him that “they escaped, too.” Healing finally comes after a quartet of birds arrive — not his birds, “but it doesn’t matter.” Del Rizzo uses polymer clay and acrylic paint to create vibrant pictures of Sami, his family, the refugee camp, and the swirling pink-and-purple sky. Most of all, she creates birds for which every feather and color looks real. Beauty and sorrow sit side by side in this compassionate and age-appropriate depiction of contemporary refugee life. (Pajama Press, 6–9 years)”

Click here to view The Horn Book Magazine’s post on books about refugee children

My Beautiful Birds Extended Author’s Note

Posted on August 31st, 2016 by pajamapress

Suzanne Del Rizzo, author and illustrator of My Beautiful Birds, writes:

S.DelRizzo.websiteWith the increased news coverage about the Syrian conflict, young readers may have questions and feel distressed. Approaching the subject in an age-appropriate way to ensure they feel safe can often be difficult. Here are some website resources which feature information on the Syrian conflict and other displacement stories to begin the conversation.

TeachingKidsNews.com

This site has original news articles on today’s current events, such as the Syrian crisis, written for a school aged audience (grades 2-8).

Amnesty International

Amnesty International has compiled a list of educational resources that explain the rights of refugees.

United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

This website offers classroom resources and an interactive online game “Against All Odds” which “lets you experience what it is like to be a refugee”.

In fact, while I was researching child-friendly resources to use myself to discuss this crisis with my own children, I came across a short UNICEF article, written by Krystel Abimeri, about a boy who fled to the Za’atari refugee camp with his family, and began an incredible friendship with an assortment of wild birds. This article inspired me to create My Beautiful Birds.

Za’atari, Jordan’s largest refugee camp, has grown rapidly from a few hundred tents into a massive network of tents and self-renovated structures with public services like schools, mosques, stores, and medical buildings, making it more like a city than a camp. Now, structured activities such as therapeutic art workshops, mural painting, and sports are offered by various organizations. Volunteers engage youth to reintroduce play and ignite their self-expression to release the trauma of war. Many residents have set up small shops such as barbershops, falafael stands, clothing/household goods stores (even a wedding-dress shop), and pizza delivery, along the main street nicknamed the Champs-Elysee. Although the distribution of these services and shops is not ideal due to the quick growth of the camp, the trade and public services access helps make this semi-permanent living situation feel more like home.

More info on life in Za’atari camp:

Za’atari’s own twitter feed with tweets by the UNHCR

The Lived Zaatari Project

How can we help?

There are many Canadian and international aid agencies providing emergency assistance, supplies and resources:

The United Nations Refugee Agency

The Canadian Red Cross actively supports SARC (Syrian Arab Red Crescent) working on the frontline across Syria to provide food, life-saving health services, and household items to people in need.

UNICEF distributes clean water, vaccines, education, psychosocial support, winter supplies, and protection to refugee children and families in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, European countries, and those actively fleeing Syria.

Canada’s Response to the Refugee Crisis

Canada has welcomed over 25,000 Syrian refugees though government and private sponsorship. As of April 2016, Canadians generously donated a total of $31.8 million to charitable organizations in response to the conflict in Syria, which the Government of Canada will match through the Syria Emergency Relief Fund.

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