Heavy Medal Mock Newbery Finalist: WHEN STARS ARE SCATTERED by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
Introduced by Heavy Medal Award Committee Member Tegen Beese:
WHEN STARS ARE SCATTERED, written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, is the story that was told to her by Omar Mohamed. This heartbreaking graphic novel chronicles his life living in a refugee camp as a young child.
At the start of the graphic novel Omar is and his younger brother, Hassan, have lived in their refugee camp for seven years, after the death of their father and the disappearance of their mother. Omar feels compelled to take care of his brother, as he is developmentally disabled. When he is encouraged to go to school, he must choose between what he thinks is the right way to take care of his brother: does he stay home and watch him, or does he go to school to help them achieve a better life in the future?
This novel addresses such important topics as the life of refugees, as well as the role that women play in society. Omar’s friend is to be married instead of going to school and achieving her dream of getting a scholarship to a school in Canada. Omar realizes the unfairness of the lives of those around him and decides that he wants to help make a difference.
The writing is intriguing and easy to understand. The graphics are beautiful and really bring the characters to the page. Omar’s story is important, relevant, and relatable.
About Steven Engelfried
Steven Engelfried was the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon until he retired in 2022 after 35 years as a full-time librarian. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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