Stormy Seas Share this with a friend

Stories of Young Boat Refugees

by Mary Beth Leatherdale
illustrated by Eleanor Shakespeare

A desperate last hope for safety and freedom.

The plight of refugees risking their lives at sea has, unfortunately, made the headlines all too often in the past few years. This book presents five true stories, from 1939 to today, about young people who lived through the harrowing experience of setting sail in search of asylum: Ruth and her family board the St. Louis to escape Nazism; Phu sets out alone from war-torn Vietnam; José tries to reach the United States from Cuba; Najeeba flees Afghanistan and the Taliban; and after losing his family, Mohamed abandons his village on the Ivory Coast in search of a new life.

Stormy Seas combines a vivid and contemporary collage-based design with dramatic storytelling to produce a book that makes for riveting reading as well as a source of timely information. These remarkable accounts will give readers a keen appreciation of the devastating effects of war and poverty on youth like themselves, and helps put the mounting current refugee crisis into stark context.


“A timely, powerful piece of nonfiction, this is a first purchase for most collections.”
—School Library Journal, *starred review, 04/17

“Gut-punch of a volume … offers an affecting perspective on the plight of refugees and emphasizes that this human-rights crisis is an ongoing, urgent issue.”
—Booklist, *starred review, 04/15/17

“Harrowing, wrenching, and hopeful.”
—Publishers Weekly, *starred review, 03/27/17

“A discussion starter on many levels both in and out of classrooms.”
—Canadian Children’s Book News, Spring/17

“The first line speaks volumes.”
—The Booklist Reader, 04/13/17

“[The] stories get gorgeously, affectingly enhanced by London-based artist Eleanor Shakespeare.”
—Bookdragon, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, 04/17

“Invaluable insight into the harrowing experiences refugees face … a great nonfiction resource for any unit on refugees or migration of people.”
—IHeartLiteracy, 03/02/17