Wisp: A Story of Hope by Zana Fraillon and Grahame Baker-Smith

A review by Nalini Haynes

One day a wisp lands at Idris’s feet, feet trapped in a dark refugee camp surrounded by rolls of barbed wire. Idris finds the wisp’s owner, who remembers better days, days of hope and wonder. This happens many times, showing Idris colour and sights he’s never seen. Then, one day, a wisp comes for Idris, but he’s always lived in this refugee camp…

Zana Fraillon writes beautifully about refugees and poverty, with her previous books Bone Sparrow and The Ones That Disappeared receiving accolades. This deceptively simple story can be shared with even younger audiences. Baker-Smith’s illustrations convey the emotion of the narrative, concealing in darkness without hope, trails of barbed wire in the background, then building memories through colour and shape with little narrative necessary.

Wisp is a beautiful story to be shared by all Australians. I hope Idris’s dream is fulfilled and he is brought from Nauru and settled in Australia, with a copy of this picture book given him for Christmas.

(Please note: Idris is a fictional character symbolising all children in refugee camps.)

Hachette says: A refugee story of extraordinary power and beauty from the Amnesty CILIP Honour-winning author of The Bone Sparrow, Zana Fraillon, and Kate Greenaway Medal-winning illustrator Grahame Baker Smith.