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Wherever I Go

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4.46  ·  Rating details ·  118 ratings  ·  53 reviews
A hopeful and timely picture book about a spirited little girl living in a refugee camp.

Of all her friends, Abia has been at the Shimelba Refugee Camp the longest—seven years, four months, and sixteen days. Papa says that’s too long and they need a forever home. Until then, though, Abia has something important to do. Be a queen.

Sometimes she’s a noisy queen, banging on h
...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 21st 2020 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  118 ratings  ·  53 reviews


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Qing Zhuang
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing

What is a refugee and what does it mean to be displaced? What does it mean to lose everything and leave not just your home but your country because of forces out of your control? How does one survive under such a situation? Why do children need to learn about concepts and experiences if they are hefty and difficult to fathom even for grown ups?

For many people around the world, and within our own borders, displacement is the reality. As detailed in the book’s author note, about half of the 68 mil
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Shireen Hakim
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: children
"Forever homes are in strange and faraway lands...wherever I go, I'll still be a queen."

Overall, I'm happy to see a book that portrays black refugees, as I think that demographic is typically overlooked/ignored in the media/society. This provides an appropriate portrayal of the refugee struggle for young readers.

After reading THE GIRL WHO SMILED BEADS, this children's book version of the refugee experience was a stark contrast. Like the award-winning film Life is Beautiful, WHEREVER I GO offers
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Lindsay Metcalf
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh, this book. I gave it five stars, but it deserves at least ten hearts. <3 The seven-year-old protagonist anoints herself "Queen Abia of the Shimelba Camp" and recounts her day-to-day activities of carrying water, watching her baby cousin, and sleeping on a mat with equal amounts of innocence, heart, and spunk. Exquisite, lyrical writing by Mary Wagley Copp includes a first-person voice that is at once believable, informative, and inspiring. This is not a book about pain; it's a book about fin ...more
Keith Marantz
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a story that needs to be told. It's powerful, heartwarming, and brilliant. The art is also superb. It is a testament that illustrates how in the most difficult of environments, the family and human spirit can thrive and overcome. ...more
Michele Knott
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Pair this with When Stars Are Scattered.
Melanie Ellsworth
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wherever I Go shows us what a refugee camp looks like from one particularly resilient child’s perspective. Abia has been in the camp for more than seven years, and it’s the only life she knows. For her father, it’s seven years too many, but for Abia, it's just home. Abia copes with the challenging environment by imagining herself to be a queen of the camp and incorporates all of her daily experiences into this role. The book holds a sense of hope as Abia is still able to be a child despite the c ...more
Elisa Boxer
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A stunning book that tackles the tough topic of refugee resettlement with extraordinary grace. The young protagonist's character is developed authentically and poignantly. We're drawn to her and rooting for her from the get-go. Her journey is our journey. She shows strength and bravery amid danger and uncertainty. The illustrations are at once somber and hopeful. This eye-opening book from debut author Mary Wagley Copp is a must-read for our time. ...more
NoNieqa Ramos
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
On her small shoulders, Abia carries the weight of water and adult responsibilities, the weight of standing on long lines for oil and rice and adult worries, the immense weight of a painful past and uncertain future. Despite her circumstances, the ever-resilient Abia names herself the “Queen of the Shimelba Refugee Camp,” wears a crown of Acacia made by her father, and is crowned with imagination, optimism, and perseverance. The powerful transition from the Shimelba Refugee Camp to a school in t ...more
Kelly Carey
Wherever I Go is a beautiful way to begin a discussion on refugees and what it might be like for a family to live in a temporary refugee camp and then to resettle in a faraway place.

This book is a study in contrast. From the wonderful illustrations that splash a dusty brown landscape with vibrantly colored clothes to the everyday chores attacked by young Abia with a regal and queenly attitude. Abia’s story is a testament to the human spirit that can endure great hardship and enormous change and
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Larissa Marantz
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mary Wagley Copp's debut picture book is an eye opening look at what life is like living in a refugee camp. The story is told from the point of view of a young and imaginative girl named Abia, whose strength and perseverance will inspire readers. Munir D. Mohammed's beautifully rendered paintings detail the daily struggle of what many readers may take for granted and allow an appreciation for the difficult reality of refugee life. An important book for young readers, this book provides an opport ...more
Rajani LaRocca
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
WHEREVER I GO is a beautiful book that puts the focus on displaced people, especially children, who number in the millions. It depicts the struggles and sadness that refugees face on a daily basis, but it also shows the joy and resilience of children being children, no matter their circumstances. An author's note adds important context to the story. This is an excellent book for classrooms and homes alike that will help open eyes and start a discussion about the people across the world who are d ...more
Jj
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book about a young girl's life in a refugee camp, and a new beginning years later in the United States told from a first-person perspective. The narrator's self-possessed outlook and unflinching optimism stand in stark contrast to her surroundings in the refugee camp. Her eventual departure from the camp and travel to the US gives the reader an idea of what so many refugees experience as they arrive in a new place that is completely different from what they have ever known.

The autho
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Nadine Gamble
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
WHEREVER I GO celebrates the resilience of one little girl, Abia, who has lived her whole life in a refugee camp. This book is less about the politics of why the family has lived there for so long and more about their life. Since Abia has lived there since she was a baby, she’s Queen and shows the many ways she is queen while showing her living her life, happy and thriving, despite the conditions. Abia’s Papa talks of the day when they will finally get a “forever home.” But Abia is unsure about ...more
Anna Crowley Redding
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful story. At it's heart, this book is about focusing on what you have and all you can be, even in very difficult times. It's about carrying the stories that define us, and yet bravely embracing the new, and weaving a common thread between the two. This story will be very welcome to children everywhere but most especially to children who have been displaced because of circumstances far beyond their control. I just love it. And I know that children who grew up in refugee camps wil ...more
Charlotte Offsay
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. Stunning illustrations. Sure to squeeze your heart. This new picture book is a must read and I would highly recommend it for the older end of the picture book audience. It features a young girl, Abia, living with her family at the Shimelba Refugee Camp. Abia has crowned herself queen and shows the strength and courage so many refugees are forced to have when they have been displaced and lost everything.
Connie T.
This is the story of Abia, a young girl living in a refugee camp for over seven years. Through her eyes, we see what that's like: the tents, having to haul water, sleeping on a mat. Later we see her adapt to life in a new country, making friends, going to school, and thriving. This is a story of hope and resilience. Though it's a fictional account, it represents the real experience of many children in many different camps. An author's note and suggested readings are included. ...more
Allison Kartman
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
"Mama says we'll have our stories, though. Wherever we go." Gorgeous illustrations! Fantastic book for young children to introduce them to the stories of life in a refugee camp. This would be a great companion to the middle grade graphic novel "When Stars are Scattered" Contains a list of picture, middle grade and YA books in the back that are relevant to refugees and resettlement. ...more
Kimberly Wright Oelkers
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book, diverse
This is a fantastic book!
Evan
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
2020 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read a picture book with a human main character from a marginalized community
Angela
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely and important book, and a recommended read for children who have questions about the refugee experience but are simply too young for books like The Good Braider or The Girl Who Smiled Beads. As a school librarian in a state with a significant number of refugees from Somalia and Sudan, I'd also recommend it to teachers as a way for young English Language Learners to see their own experiences reflected in a book.

The beginning of the story strikes a balance between statement of fac
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Colleen
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: soaring-20s
Author Mary Wagley Copp creates a resilient, imaginative, and confident character in Abia, a girl who has been in the Shimelba Camp in Northern Ethiopia for most of her life. Young readers will find they share much in common with Abia. She plays with friends, pretends, pounds on her drum (sometimes too loudly), and worries about moving to a new home—a “forever home”—in a different country. Exquisitely rendered, realistic illustrations by Munir D. Mohammed give a glimpse of what Abia’s family lif ...more
Rachel
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
What I loved most about this book is that Abia is a normal relatable child living a normal relatable life in extraordinary circumstances. I think many times people in the U.S. see pictures of refugees and feel a sense of separation from them. Their experiences are foreign to us. But any child in any part of the world will relate to Abia’s feelings, her imagination, her playfulness, and her desires. Who doesn’t want to be a queen, after all? In the process of getting to know and like Abia, they w ...more
Candy Wellins
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A child’s journey from war-torn country to resettlement camp to peaceful new country. It’s a lot to process, but this book does it with grace so even the youngest readers can understand what it means to be a refugee. The main character is resilient and relatable. This book is a great introduction to a difficult topic.
Laura
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Abia declares herself queen of her refugee camp. It is the only life she's ever known. With playfulness and imagination, Abia wears her crown, marches with her soldiers, and grows strong from pounding cassava. She is a queen in all circumstances, even when her family is resettled in a strange and unfamiliar country. Rich illustrations highlight the hardship and hope of refugees around the world. ...more
Gregory Barrington
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wherever I Go is a powerful book shining a spotlight on refugee camps and home displacement. While this is a fictional tale of a girl named Abia, refugee camps are a reality throughout the world. Filled with strength, resolve, hopes, and dreams, Wherever I Go is needed for children to see the world outside of their community. Highly recommend.
Darshana Khiani
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural
A beautiful story that gives the reader a glimpse of life in a refugee camp. The story follows a charismatic, feisty young girl as we learn about her everyday life, a quick flashback of how they became refugees, and her dream of finding a forever home. A wonderful story for curious minds.
Abby Johnson
Bringing an experience of a child refugee to life, this gorgeous picture book concentrates on the small joys and confidences of a young refugee girl while not denying the hardships of refugee lives. It's a book that will open children's eyes to the experiences of displaced people around the world. ...more
Mimi
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An inspiring look at a refugee camp through the eyes of a little girl. The illustrations are wonderful and bring texture and depth to the story. Very well written!
Casey Robinson
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An important book about refugees, beautifully written and illustrated and full of hope. Young Abia has an unforgettable spirit and energy that will stay with you.
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