Picture Books and the Refugee Experience

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This thesis aims to find the different strategies authors use in representing pre- and trans-migration trauma in their picture books. Michelle Balaev’s work Trauma Theory and Its Discontents: The Potentials of Pluralism will function as the theoretical framework through which these narrative strategies, specifically the concepts of protagonist, place, and “the unspeakable”, will be analyzed. The three picture books that are used for this research are Stepping Stones, Lost and Found Cat, and My Beautiful Birds. In all of these books refugee families are followed who have been forced to leave their home because of the war in Syria and Iraq yet different perspectives and styles are used in the representation of their journeys. There are different takes on how trauma and war atrocities should be confronted in children’s literature, one of these approaches is outlined in the article “A New Algorithm in Evil: Children’s Literature in a post-Holocaust world” by Elizabeth Baer. This article will be applied to the outcome of the close readings of the picture books. Keywords: Refugees, Syrian war, picture books, children’s literature, migration, trauma theory, close reading, war atrocities, Lost and Found Cat, My Beautiful Birds, and Stepping Stones.
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