The Bone Sparrow

The Bone Sparrow

by Zana Fraillon


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The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

"Indispensable."-Booklist (starred review)


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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781484781517
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication date: 11/01/2016
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Zana Fraillon was born in Melbourne, Australia, but spent her early childhood in San Francisco. Zana has written two picture books for young children, a series for middle readers, and a fictitious book for older readers based on research and recounts of survivors of the Forgotten Generation. She now lives in Melbourne, with her three sons, husband and two dogs. When Zana isn't reading or writing, she likes to explore the museums and hidden passageways scattered across Melbourne. They provide the same excitement as that moment before opening a new book—preparing to step into the unknown where a whole world of possibilities awaits.

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The Bone Sparrow 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
jesserosecook More than 1 year ago
The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon is hands-down my favorite read so far this year. The imagery is gorgeous and the story explores the depths of human emotion and our compassion for those different than us. I feel that it’s an important read for adults and teens alike in today’s world of war and refugees. Subhi’s mother and sister fled to Australia from war-torn Myanmar. He was born in the detention center and has lived there for every one of his 10 years, waiting for his father to come and take them away from days of moldy food, unsanitary conditions and unrest. In his imagination, the night sea from his mother’s stories comes every night to bring him presents from his “ba.” He can hear the songs of the whales and smell the fish as he collects his treasures. Just when things are getting particularly bad in the camp, a girl named Jimmie appears from outside the fences with stories of her own. She’s lost her mother and Subhi and Jimmie form a tight bond. Can they find comfort in each other when life is full of sickness and death? Can they ever be as free as their stories? This poignant novel shows us just how bad conditions can get for refugees who often lay in wait for years in a detention center as they enter countries that don’t want them. They’re treated worse than criminals by the people who are supposed to care for them and are forgotten by the rest of the country. Why can’t we just agree that people are people and treat each other with respect? I love the story told from Subhi’s imagination. It made the novel into a folk-tale and showed us the resiliency of the human spirit without hitting us over the head with the moral of the tale. Subhi is the embodiment of hope and wonder. The language throughout the novel is magical, even though it’s a contemporary tale. I also loved that this was a YA novel without a romance thrown into the mix. That’s rare these days. The author added a short essay at the end with facts about real life refugees. Their plight is often hidden from society, so it was eye-opening. If you enjoy novels with lots of imagery and heart that are out to make a difference in the world, add this to your reading list.
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
The Bone Sparrow will open young minds to one of the atrocities of modern society - refugee camps. Subhi is ten year-old Rohingya boy who's lived his whole life in a refugee camp in Australia. The conditions are awful. They eat slop, essentially, every day, unless there are government visitors. The guards are brutal, and his 12 year-old best friend is sent over to the men's area because they need the space for another family with small children. Jimmie is a ten year-old girl living near the refugee camp. Her mother is dead, and her father works long hours. She lives far away from her school, so she doesn't always make it, and she's never learned how to read. She finds a way into the refugee camp at night, befriends Subhi, and gets him to read her mom's stories to her. They share hot chocolate and horrible jokes. Jimmie shows Subhi pictures of her world on her phone, and amazingly they never get caught. It's a sweet story of friendship, imagination, and fighting against an unjust system with a bittersweet ending. Subhi witnesses something awful, and he's going to tell the truth at the end in the hopes that conditions might get better for his family, himself, and the rest of the refugees.
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
There are not enough stars to give “The Bone Sparrow.” Even a thousand would be insufficient. Subhi, the main character, is a child born inside an Australian detention camp to a Burmese refugee. The way the story progresses is a work of art, with the reader taking the journey with Subhi as he grows to realize the only world he has ever known is not at all normal or fair. It’s a painful path to take with him. There are occasional chapters written in third person about the life of Jimmie, a girl from the outside. She provides both her own story and a way to see the contrast of what people think goes on and what actually happens inside of the camps. The book is written for middle graders and does an excellent job of presenting very difficult subjects at an appropriate reading level without sugar-coating any of the horror. I believe any age group ten and up should read “The Bone Sparrow,” but the fact that children can learn from the lessons contained within it gives me hope for the future of humanity. Highly recommended. This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.
Myndia More than 1 year ago
The premise of this book is compelling and important. The refugee crisis is much worse than most people realize. They desperately flee their homes, to protect their families and escape certain death, only to face different tragedies elsewhere – death or injury during the escape, loss and separation from loved ones, being turned away by countries who are too afraid (or too cowardly) to help, or being taken in by countries who then imprison them indefinitely, treating them as less than human. It is a problem the world is choosing to turn a blind eye to, and it is horrific and tragic. Now, this story is written for middle graders, and I suspect that is why the tone is not as dark or despairing as I was expecting. The point is to make them see the realities from the perspective of one of their peers, to awaken them to the tragedy that has befallen so many, and perhaps to call them to action now and in the future, to make them want to be the change that improves this situation. And I hope that’s what it does. As an adult, I didn’t quite connect with this book the way I had hoped to. The writing is a bit lyrical for my taste. And it smacked a little too much of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas for me. However, the topic is well presented and important. This is definitely a book I will share with my children when they are a little bit older. Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This was such a great story. Unfortunately, it was fictionally based off true events. The author did such a great job with the story and with the characters. I could not put this book down, nor did I want to leave it when I was finished. I was very surprised how much happened in such a short time. I loved the old tales and how they were tied into this story. Not sure if they the old ones were real or not, but it was just such a wonderful tie-in. I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed this book. I would definitely recommend this to everyone who gets a chance to read it or who sees it on the shelf. It is definitely one of my top books for 2016. Huge thanks to Disney Book Group and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.