Written by: Mary Wagley Copp
Illustrated by: Munir D. Mohammed
For ages: 6-9 years
Topics Covered: Refugees, Resettlement, Lived Experiences, Family, African Culture & Identity, Friendship, Growing Up, Social-Emotional Learning.
Abia has declared herself queen of the refugee camp she lives in, Shimelba! She knows all the ins and outs of daily life, like how to walk quickly and not spill any water when walking back from the pumps. Abia sings the loudest too, just like a queen would. Abia assures the reader too, that she’s the strongest queen because she pounds cassava roots to help her mother. Abia’s father even made her a queen’s crown, out of acacia branches.
Before Abia became queen, she was an infant when her parents fled their village. They walked for miles through the dark to safety. Now, the family has been at Shimelba for seven years. Abia loves it, it’s the only home she knows. But her father talks about another home, a forever home. Abia and her family will leave all of their belongings behind for others, including her crown.
This is a beautiful book. Abia does leave the camp, but the traits that made her a good queen at Shimelba also help her in her new home. In the back is an author’s note about displaced people, she’s worked extensively for refugee families and helping them resettle, much like Abia’s family did. There is also a list of other books to check out that talk about refugee experiences and resettlement.
This book was generously sent to us by Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own! Wherever I Go was just recently released, on the 21st.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Mary Wagley Copp has worked for many years in the refugee resettlement community. She was a producer of an Emmy Award–winning documentary on refugee resettlement, which was the inspiration for this book. Her professional life has also included community organizing in Appalachia, teaching in Ecuador, and being executive director of two nonprofit organizations. When she’s not writing, Mary teaches ESL to newcomers in her community. She lives in Westport, Massachusetts, with her husband, their puppy, and their chickens. They have three grown children. You can visit her website here!
Munir D. Mohammed is a native of Ghana, West Africa, who lives in Providence, Rhode Island. He maintains an active studio practice and does community-based work as a muralist. He is the cofounder of the International Gallery for Heritage and Culture, which provided art and cultural education programming in schools and in the community. Munir received a Master of Arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he is a Teaching Artist for Project Open Door, RISD’s college access program for artistically talented teens attending local urban public high schools.