Children must be free

Issue 

A True Person

Written by Gabiann Marin

Illustrated by Jacqui Grantford

New Frontier Publishing, 2007

27 pages, $24.95

This is a book for children to learn from as they grow up. It seems to be written for five to seven year olds. It has beautiful pictures and they are very realistic.

It is a very clear book, you can read the writing very well. I think that the drawings blend in with the words.

I know that it is made up but it seems so realistic I don't see it that way. It feels like the story of a real person.

It's about refugees fighting for a new life. It is about a mother and child called Zallah escaping from a war zone. They come to Australia by boat and Zallah was sick on the third day at sea.

When they arrive in Australia they are put in a detention centre in the desert.

The story makes me feel wonderful, it makes me feel like I'm free. The part that makes me feel like that is the part about Zallah making one of her first friends. It's because of the picture and because of his smile.

Her mother and Zallah's African friend Mwalo talked to her about being a "true person". Mwalo told her that being a true person meant that you had to have all your papers. "If you have all your papers you are real," he said. "You can say who you are and they let you out of here sooner."

But her mother told her "to be a true person all you need are eyes that see you and hearts that love you".

I think that this would be a good book for other children to read because it teaches that locking up refugee children in detention is idiotic.

In the end Zallah waves to a lady. Barbed wire fences don't hide love.

[Patrick Truman Healy, aged nine, reads avidly and is yet to become a member of Socialist Alliance.]