New Review: A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis illustrated by Jo Weaver

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A Story Like the Wind written by Gill Lewis and illustrated by Jo Weaver is out today, published by Oxford University Press.  Gill was inspired to write A Story Like the Wind after seeing an image of a young Syrian refugee playing his violin in front of a barricade of armed police at a border control. Gill says:  “Stories are powerful things. They can travel through time and space, carried through spoken and written word and through music and the visual arts. We need them now more than ever.”

A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis illustrated by Jo Weaver

A small boat drifts on the sea. Far from home, the people inside have lost everything.  But as their boat spins slowly on the rising sea, they share a song and a story.  A song and a story that keep hope alive in their hearts.  A song of freedom and a story like the wind….

Rami is just 14 years old.  He has escaped the war in his home country and is trying to make his way to freedom on a tiny boat that is now drifting on the open sea.  All he has in the world is his precious violin; all he has is hope.  And it is with this violin that he shares a story of hope with his fellow refugees; all of whom have lost their homes to the war that rages and are clinging desperately to life.  The story he shares is a fable; an ancient tale of a white stallion and a boy called Suke fighting against tyranny.  It also tells of the birth of the violin and the power of music to overcome. The fable prompts each refugee to recall memories of family and home, reminding them of the love that surrounds them, even in the darkest of times.

A Story Like the Wind is utterly beautiful; the words and illustrations perfectly intertwining to create a celebration of love, life and hope. The story evokes a timelessness reminding us that throughout the ages people have fought and overcome oppression.  The refugees share the same fears and suffer the same hate as Suke and his stallion, but they also share the same love and desire for freedom. In quiet moments of reflection from each refugee, Gill Lewis captures the heartbreak they have suffered and the devastation of war, but also reminds us why life is to be celebrated.  A man remembers meeting the love of his life; brothers poignantly remember their family home; a mother recalls the birth of her precious son.  Even in the midst of the darkest time, the music of life is a powerful melody that you can almost hear as you read this story.

‘We must all sing it, for those we have lost, or left behind. We must sing it to those who do not know they need it yet. We must keep the song alive.’

Jo Weaver’s absolutely stunning charcoal illustrations give life to Rami, the music and the memories, beautifully portraying the light against the dark. A Story Like the Wind reminds us we have so much to be thankful for – not least our freedom.  Suitable for younger readers but a story everyone should read; if any book is going to inspire a response to the refugee crisis, it is this one.

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For more information visit www.gilllewis.com and www.joweaver.co.uk. This book is endorsed by Amnesty International. Thank you to Oxford University Press for sending me a copy of this book to review.  Read my interview with Gill Lewis here.

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