“Once there was a boy who had to leave his home…and find another.”
The boy heads out to sea to days of darkness and some light. He has memories of his mother, and an apple tree grows in his teacup. Eventually he finds a safe place to land, and, later, he is joined by a new friend who’s got a pear tree.
Teacup is beautifully illustrated, with pictures that show the widest of blue open skies and clouds that change with a whisper. The words are sparse and lyrical and flow across the page.
It could be just a story about imaginary kids going off into the world for an adventure, right? But somehow it seems something more, a representation of the lives of refugees we see on the news, fleeing their homes with little more than a teacup, passing through unfamiliar and sometimes dark places, and hoping to find a calm place to set down roots and make a new life with new friends. Many children will know kids from school whose parents had to flee their homelands – why not start a conversation about a tough issue with this?
You could follow it up with The Journey by Francesca Sanna. Amnesty International has endorsed this one. It might not work for the very youngest kids, but the illustrations are lovely and expressive and life-filled, even when the story is tragic. Older elementary and middle school students would also benefit from this book as part of a lesson. The format leaves a discussion wide open and might help kids understand what being a refugee means for so many — simply trying to protect your family and be safe somewhere. Anywhere. It’s a heavy topic, but so important now.
Teacup by Rebecca Young and Matt Ottley
The Journey by Francesca Sanna