Zenobia was once a great warrior queen of Syria whose reign reached from Egypt to Turkey. She was courageous. No-one gave her orders. Once she even went to war against the emperor of Rome.
When things feel overwhelming for Amina, her mother reminds her to think of Zenobia and be strong. Amina is a Syrian girl caught up in a war that reaches her village. To escape the war she boards a small boat crammed with other refugees. The boat is rickety and the turbulent seas send Amina overboard. In the dark water Amina remembers playing hide and seek with her mother and making dolmas and the journey she had to undertake with her uncle to escape. And she thinks of the brave warrior Zenobia.
Zenobia is a heartbreaking and all-too-real story of one child’s experience of war. Told with great sensitivity in few words and almost exclusively with pictures, Zenobia is a story for everyone.
This is not the typical type of title that we include as part of our Standing Order selections. In fact, it is rare for us to select a Graphic Novel in our secondary selections - although we know they are extremely popular with many, we know they are not for everyone.
This title has been read by most of us here at Lamont, and we all came to the same conclusion - it needed to be selected, as it told a very sad, real and confronting story about the desperation that people in crisis face, but in a very touching way. The story centres on Syrian refugees, but the themes transcend the specific setting and bring the plight of refugees everywhere to life.
With very few words, the very powerful pictures tell us the story. It reminds us all that when things are tough, we need to find the strength of Zenobia in all of us.
This is a book that can be read by all secondary students and will be a very valuable classroom resource.
Reviewed by Sam