Sometimes I think it’s a bit ridiculous for adults to review kids books. I remember being a kid and reading books where you think, does this person remember what it’s like to be a kid? Were they ACTUALLY a kid at some point or were they just born this boring adult? And: why is this person on the blurb telling us what to think about it when they are basically ancient? I guess it’s the reason why I talk about books I do like and not about the ones I don’t. I might not like things that actual non-adults think are amazing, so it seems pointless to have a whine about kids books when I’m not even a kid and haven’t been one for about twenty years. I’m just really trying to point out books that I think are interesting, and worth picking up and talking about and having a go at reading. (And obviously as an adult who gets to make decisions like “let’s go see all the kids movies!” instead of “let’s save our money responsibly!” it means I get to deliver reviews of way more movies than most kids get to see. One day you too could be an irresponsible adult. It’s great fun, until all your friends start talking about buying houses.)
It’s hard, as well, because adults write all the kids books. I mean, I wrote like crazy my whole kid life, but when you’re learning SO MUCH all at once you don’t really have it in you to write and edit a 60,000 word novel. All that writing I did as a kid absolutely helped me get to where I am today, finally getting a real book out there that I think my ten-year-old self would’ve liked, but I couldn’t have done this work as a kid, just like I don’t have the imagination to write short stories about the lives of toilet doors like I did when I was a kid. Growing up is a real bummer sometimes.
Zenobia, by Morten Durr and Lars Horneman is exactly the type of book that makes me think these thoughts about reviewing and writing. This is a graphic novel with so few words that I almost definitely doubled Zenobia‘s word count in my rant above. As a result, and as an adult who was stuck sick in bed, I finished the whole book in about five minutes flat. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s the story of a girl–Amina–who is fleeing her home country of Syria, where war has torn her life apart. Now, she’s on a boat that’s taking her to somewhere without war, but the journey itself will prove difficult, and fateful. The illustrations, in just two colours, are lovely, and sparse, just like the words. I urge you to take your time with it, because I didn’t. I didn’t let myself get as immersed as I should have. This isn’t a cheerful story–though Amina loves to think fondly about her parents, and their spirit and their games–and it doesn’t offer any solutions, or a lot of other information. I did look up Zenobia, a Syrian hero, afterwards, as I had not heard of her before. This is a book that may involve some talking with the grown-ups in your life afterwards–not because they know everything (I definitely do not!) but because there might be a bit of thinking and research to do afterwards, if you want a bigger story, or maybe you just want to think about it on its own, and that’s okay too.