June 29, 2021
Samira thinks of her life as before and after: before the burning and violence in her village in Burma, when she and her best friend would play in the fields, and after, when her family was forced to flee. There's before the uncertain journey to Bangladesh by river, and after, when the river swallowed her nana and nani whole. And now, months after rebuilding a life in Bangladesh with her mama, baba, and brother, there's before Samira saw the Bengali surfer girls of Cox's Bazar, and after, when she decides she'll become one.
Samira Surfs, written by Rukhsanna Guidroz with illustrations by Fahmida Azim, is a tender novel in verse about a young Rohingya girl's journey from isolation and persecution to sisterhood, and from fear to power.
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Aside from Perkins' Tiger Boy, I can't think of any other middle grade books set in Bangladesh, and certainly haven't read any with Rohingya characters! It's great to see this representation, and Samira's interactions with her family and friends will resonate with middle grade readers. I liked the details about how the family lived, especially things like going to a local shop to watch television news or borrowing a cell phone in order to call relatives. There aren't many books about surfing, either, so this has all kids of new and interesting topics in it! The illustrations are helpful in showing where Samira lives, and what she and her friends wear. I love giving my students books that show what the lives of children their age are like in other countries, and this was an interesting and informative title.
Novels in verse are a great way to reel in reluctant readers, and the illustrations will also prove alluring, but the story was so interesting that I would have preferred a prose format with more descriptions, as well as context clues for some of the terms and situations with which some readers might be unfamiliar.
I would love to see more books with Rohingya characters, but wish that there were more details about Samira's every day life so that my students would have a better understanding of Samira's life. The notes at the end were very helpful.
There are no user reviews for this listing.