Today we are publishing Refuge, written by Anne Booth and illustrated by Sam Usher, in aid of War Child. The book will have taken only seven weeks to bring to market from manuscript to publication, and by taking no profit, and asking suppliers and booksellers to take no profit or minimise costs, £5 from each copy sold will go to the charity.
Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell has called Refuge “an important Christmas book,” saying it leaves the reader with “an ache in your heart until the beauty and hope of the very last page.”
Refuge is a retelling of the Christmas story, but one with a difference: the focus of this short, lyrical picture book is the fleeing of Jesus, Mary and Joseph from Herod’s soldiers as they make their way to safety in Egypt, told from the point of view of a donkey that helps take them there. To him they are just a ‘man’, ‘woman’ and ‘child’. The text was written by Anne Booth, and as soon as Nosy Crow MD Kate Wilson read it, she knew what she wanted to do. “I was watching the ongoing crisis on the news and desperately wanted to do something to help; then Anne’s beautiful text arrived. We read it, we cried and we knew we had found what we could do.” Wilson hopes that, as well as raising money for War Child, the book could help parents talk to young children who will have seen images of refugees their own age and asked questions.
Anne said: “Whenever I think about refugees I think about what happened directly after the first Christmas. I hoped that retelling this part of the story would help people empathise with refugees today. I’m delighted Nosy Crow and War Child agreed.”
Sam Usher had recently visited the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais to see for himself what was happening, so when Nosy Crow approached him to illustrate Refuge, his answer was easy. “I had visited to see what I could do, but after listening to a young refugee’s story of non-stop horror I knew anything I could do alone would make little difference. And when I was approached by Nosy Crow on my return, I felt that a couple of weeks of solid work is nothing to the suffering refugees go through.”
War Child’s CEO, Rob Williams said: “Nearly everyone knows the famous Christmas story. And we are all well aware of the struggles faced by families fleeing conflict in the modern world. This book helps us all to understand the value of every single person who travels in search of safety and protection. By buying the book people will be enabling War Child to bring vital support to children and their families who are struggling to survive the devastation of conflict and the experience of becoming a refugee.
We are very grateful to Nosy Crow, Anne and Sam for producing such a beautiful and powerful book. Our teams see children and families that have fled their homes in terror every day, and the money raised by sales of Refuge will go a long way in helping us to make their lives that little bit easier.”
Nosy Crow will donate to War Child £5 for every copy sold, and will make no profit on the £7.99 book. Nor will the many supporters of the book, from the Italian printer who printed it to the bookshops that stock it. Kate said: “We are so proud of this project and grateful to everyone who through their generosity is helping us publish this beautiful book and maximise money for War Child. In this short Christmas season, I hope we are able to raise many tens of thousands of pounds for this wonderful charity and the children who need help so desperately.”
Take a look inside the book: