Cover image for The Bone Sparrow
Title:
The Bone Sparrow
Author:
Fraillon, Zana, author.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Los Angeles ; New York : Disney-Hyperion, 2016.

©2016
Physical Description:
228 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
Subhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention center after his mother and sister fled the violence of a distant homeland, Subhi has only ever known life behind the fences. But his world is far bigger than that -- every night, the magical Night Sea from his mother's stories brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. And as he grows, his imagination threatens to burst beyond the limits of his containment. The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie -- a scruffy, impatient girl who appears on the other side of the wire fence and brings with her a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it herself, she relies on Subhi to unravel her family's love songs and tragedies. Subhi and Jimmie might both find comfort -- and maybe even freedom -- as their tales unfold. But not until each has been braver than ever before.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
Ages 9-12.
ISBN:
9781484781517
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

"Indispensable."-Booklist (starred review) CARNEGIE MEDAL 2017 FINALIST
Subhi is a refugee. He was born in an Australian permanent detention center after his mother and sister fled the violence of a distant homeland, and the center is the only world he knows. But every night, the faraway whales sing to him, the birds tell him their stories, and the magical Night Sea from his mother's stories brings him gifts. As Subhi grows, his imagination threatens to burst beyond the limits of the fences that contain him. Until one night, it seems to do just that.

Subhi sees a scruffy girl on the other side of the wire mesh, a girl named Jimmie, who appears with a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it herself, Jimmie asks Subhi to unravel her family's love songs and tragedies that are penned there.

Subhi and Jimmie might both find comfort-and maybe even freedom-as their tales unfold. But not until each has been braver than ever before and made choices that could change everything.


Author Notes

Zana Fraillon was born in Melbourne Australia but spent her early childhood in San Francisco. She has always loved reading. She studied history at university and then trained to be a primary school teacher. Both have an influenced her writing.

She is the author of No Stars to Wish on, The Bone Sparrow, and The Ones That Disappeared, which won the 2018 NSW Premier's Literary Awards, Ethel Turner Prize for Young Adult's Literature. She is the author of the Monstrum House series and co-author, with Lucia Masciullo, of the series When No-one's looking.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Unlike his maá and sister Queeny, Rohingya refugees forced to flee their native Myanmar by boat, Subhi was born in an Australian detention center. The crowded quarters, rationed portions, and exacting employees (the Jackets) are all the 10-year-old has ever known. Jimmie, on the other hand, was born on the outside and lives just blocks from Subhi's center. Once filled with books and gardens, her world was ruptured by the recent death of her mother. While Subhi's stories, dreams, and drawings help him endure the center's countless hardships as he awaits the arrival of his faraway father, Jimmie copes by sifting through memories. One remnant, an unread notebook of her mother's, has her hunting for answers and finding them in, of all places, Subhi. As their stories gracefully interlock, the center seethes with unprecedented tension. The pivoting story line, with chapters alternating among Subhi, Jimmie, and sparkling slivers of family lore, allows Fraillon to explore the many faces of otherness, bravery, and solidarity. But Subhi's narrative, whether he's squabbling with a rubber duck or searching the stars, remains the standout of the three: wide-eyed, heartfelt, and infectiously imaginative. Appended with a glimpse at the all-too-true reality of refugee maltreatment, this tale is breathtaking and indispensable. As Subhi might say, there is a fierce inside of it.--Shemroske, Briana Copyright 2016 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Subhi hangs on his mother's stories of her life in Burma as a Rohingya, a persecuted ethnic Muslim minority. Subhi's Maá (mother) and his older sister were among the Rohingya exiled from their homeland and relegated to a detention center in Australia, where he was born. The 10-year-old's imagination helps him survive in a refugee camp ruled by abusive guards as he watches Maá sink into catatonia and waits in vain for the arrival of his father, an outspoken poet. Australian author Fraillon crafts a harrowing vision of life in the detention center (shoes are rarities, rats and mold are rampant, children race lice for fun), yet Subhi finds solace in sensitively portrayed friendships with a rebellious older boy, a compassionate guard, and an intrepid girl named Jimmie who sneaks into the camp to hear Subhi read stories her late mother recorded in a notebook; though most of the story is told from Subhi's first-person perspective, several third-person chapters focus on Jimmie's life outside the camp. While addressing themes of loss, desperation, and injustice in an all-too-relevant setting, Fraillon's resonant novel underscores the healing power of story. Ages 9-12. Agent: Claire Wilson, Rogers, Coleridge & White. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-Subhi knows only life in the Australian refugee detention center where he was born, and lately, things are getting worse. His mother is increasingly lethargic, older sister Queeny is bossy and angry, and his best friend Eli has been transferred to the single men's compound. The Jackets (guards) are unfriendly, except for Harvey, who occasionally brings presents and diversions. It's at this low point that Subhi meets Jimmie, a local child who finds her way into the camp. Jimmie's mother has died, and between her father's grief and his erratic work schedule, she is alone for long periods. Jimmie can't read, so she asks Subhi to read aloud her mother's notebooks, which contain stories from her mother's past. The unrelenting conditions of the camp result in a tragic situation that impacts both children. Fraillon creates a complex narrative, weaving tales from Subhi, Jimmie, and the notebooks. The characters and situations are portrayed realistically-once Eli has gone, Subhi cannot withstand the bullying of some of the older boys and is pressured into an act of animal cruelty. Kind guard Harvey is also shown to be unable to deal with peer pressure. While the book is fictional, the author based it on research and reports of life in Australian detention centers, where conditions are grim. Readers will come away with a raised awareness of life in such centers, but why these facilities exist is not discussed. Students may be inspired to do their own research on organizations working to better the lives of refugees. VERDICT A thought-provoking and affecting selection that highlights a current situation in many countries. Hand to readers who appreciated Linda Sue Park's A Long Walk to Water.-Michelle Anderson, Tauranga City Libraries, New Zealand © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.