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(Jamila #1)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  84 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Jamila has left her friends, her school and her home in Iraq, and now she has a new home. It’s safe in Australia, but Jamila is finding it hard to settle in. She misses her best friend and worries for her dad’s safety back in Iraq. It’s hard to speak and write in English all day. And Jamila has a secret she wants to keep hidden.

When she joins the choir, Jamila begins to fe
Paperback, 176 pages
Published July 30th 2020 by Text Publishing (first published May 7th 2019)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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Jamila is eleven-years old, and she along with her mother and baby brother have moved to Melbourne, Australia fleeing from their home in Baghdad, Iraq, and leaving Jamila’s father behind until he can join them. She misses her best friend Mina, who called Jamila Songbird for her love of singing, and writing her own songs. Singing takes her away from her worries about her father, and her struggles to make friends in her new school.

Her mother needs her help for many things, she knows very little E
Eleven-year-old Jamila, her mama and little brother Amir had moved from Iraq to Melbourne Australia, and now Jamila was going to a new school. She was just learning her English, but her mama was struggling to adapt to her new way of life. She constantly called the school for Jamila to come home, to help her with various situations. But Jamila, whom her best friend Mina had called Songbird in Iraq, joined the choir in school. And her beautiful singing helped her to fit in. She made a new friend a ...more
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: text, bookgasm, loveozmg
Jamila has migrated to Australia from Baghdad Iraq, a country ravaged by conflict. In their quiet and humble Melbourne home, Jamila and her mother await the arrival of their father and husband from Baghdad, an investigative journalist taking shelter from the authorities. Feeling displaced and missing her homeland, Jamila attends school, translates English for her mother and helps care for her brother, often at the expense of attending school.

Jamila is gentle soul, her character is representative
Sharah McConville
Songbird is a powerful story about acceptance, family and friendship. 11 year old Jamila and her Mum and baby brother are refugees settling into their new life in Melbourne. They fled Iraq and had to leave Jamila's Father behind. Jamila loves singing and is called Songbird (Mutraba in Arabic), by her best friend in Iraq. Her new school in Melbourne has a choir so Jamila auditions. What follows is a beautiful story for children (and adults like me!). With thanks to NetGalley and Text Publishing f ...more
Briar's Reviews
This was the loveliest little story and I am SO SO SO happy I had the chance to read it! I can't recommend this book enough.

This little story brings lots of hope and inspiration. It's a book about family, friends and community, and I just really liked how heart warming it was! Jamila was shy due to moving from Iraq to Australia. Iraq was her home, and her Dad is there. She misses her home, even if it wasn't the safest. She's struggling in Australia because she's new and young - English is new an
Text Publishing
‘Laguna has put much of the experience and understanding she has gained as both a musician and as a teacher of English to new arrivals into this engaging first novel.’
Adelaide Advertiser
Emily Wrayburn
Review originally posted on A Keyboard and an Open Mind 11 October 2019:

This was such a sweet, uplifting book! It’s only short and I read it all in one sitting, and afterwards had a huge smile on my face. It was kind of easy to see where the story was going, but that didn’t take away from it at all.

Jamila, her mother and younger brother are refugees newly arrived in Melbourne from Iraq. Jamila is struggling to balance her new school life where she is the odd one out with her mother’s needs as th
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This story was short and so touching. It evoked so many emotions in me.

I empathised with Jamila and her mum, and their struggle at starting a life in a new country. Jamila’s frustration at being constantly taken out of school to help her mum with everyday tasks is understandably frustrating for her. She doesn’t know how she is meant to improve her English and social skills if she is having to go home a few times a week to help her mum with things.

It made my heart ache when Jamila and her mum g
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Songbird // by Ingrid Laguna

Songbird is the story of a young girl that flees her country of Iraq during wartime and finds a new life in Australia. Sadly, only her brother and mother were able to come with her while her father, uncle, and best friend had to stay behind. Follow Jamila as she learns her way around her new school with the difficulties of learning a new language, making friends and enemies, learning to be the better person, and learning to be comfortable being herself while also help
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Netgally and the author for the gifted copy, all thoughts are completely my own.

I was rather blown away by this book. It spoke of sensitive subject matters such as terrorism and immigration, but it was handled very respectfully.

This book includes both English and Arabic words and at the end is a glossary of Arabic words and their English translations.

I would definitely recommend this if you are looking for something with emotion and depth.
Kate Geraets
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Songbird is a beautifully written book, the words flow almost like lyrics.
Jamila is a young girl trying to find her feet in a new country (Australia) having moved from Iraq. Her plight is sensitively handled and it is written in such a way that her troubles and tribulations are relatable and understandable even for those of us that have never been in such a situation.
Jamila came to Australia with her mum and younger brother, leaving their father behind in Iraq to follow on, the aching with which
Jasmine Dayal
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-in-2020
Such a beautiful story.
I'll get back with a detailed review when I've collected my thoughts but one thing is sure, this book is a must-read.
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 out of 5 🌟A wonderful and emotional story about hope

'Songbird' is a name Jamila was called by her best friend Mina back in Baghdad, Iraq. Now she is in Australia, a new country away from her friends and family, speaking a foreign language she doesn't fully understand. Jamila is trying hard to succeed in school and fit in among her peers despite all difficulties. Singing is her way to escape from troubles, allowing her to be happy and careless again. Jamila's life is hardly resembling all oth
Baobablady (Stacy Greene)
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I loved this book! I am so thankful that this incredible author put this book out in the world. This is a tender, caring book about a girl from Iraq who has moved to Australia and is awaiting the arrival of her father. It focusses on the struggles of Jamila and her mom and brother (Amir) as they adjust to their new situation in a strange land. The book features Jamila as the main character who is struggling with homesickness, adjusting to a new school, helping her mom navigate life in a new coun ...more
Liliana Silva
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I myself left my own country when I was 14 with my family to find a better life elsewhere.
My family also needed me to learn the new language and be the one to take care of everything.
I can say that I shed a few tears thinking about how I struggled to keep up with school, a new country a new language and the fact that I was no longer a kid, instead I became a teacher, a translator, a doctor, a mother, I had to be who my family needed me to be.
Loved the story it touched me so much..
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
* I received a digital ARC from NetGalley to review.* A nice, wholesome story aimed towards younger Middle Grades. Includes diverse characters and is good example of overcoming obstacles.
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Songbird is a heartwarming story of an immigrant family from Iraq, and the struggles the main character, an 11 year old named Jamila, faces. I appreciated the gentle way those struggles were presented, and think this is a perfect book to add to your classroom shelf or introduce to your children. Songbird succeeds in not being heavy handed, and is a great way to open children's eyes and hearts to the struggles others can face, as well as to learn about other cultures.

This book would make an exce
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
A beautiful story about friendships and the struggle a little girl and her Iraqi family go through after migrating to Australia. I read this in one sitting!

Jamila is a character that you can't help but to adore, and hope that no harm ever comes her way. She loves her family more than anything, but she also knows what she wants and she strives to get it.

This book makes one feel sorrow at the harsh reality families—like Jamila's—from war-torn countries face, but also warmth at the endless hope sh
Kelly | My Teacher Reads
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
For Upper Primary students, this novel shares the often untold difficulties refugee children have, particularly the pull between their new and old lives. Jamila is struggling with her sense of self as she tries to navigate her new school while also being a rock for her family. She finds solace and self in songwriting and singing. A thoughtful read, addressing issues like language barriers and bullying. Jamila’s perspective allows readers to step into her shoes.
Sharlene Evans
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful story! I had strong memories of first reading Looking For Alibrandi as I read Songbird purely because it took me into the life of a culture different to my own ... I might go as far as to say it is a modern day Alibrandi for middle school readers - no dating or teenage issues explored - from an Iraq refugee perspective (not too heavy with the refugee story however ... more about fitting in to life in a new country). Beautiful!
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a beautiful book! I absolutely loved reading this. It's about an Iraqi refugee in Australia and her mum and younger brother. She's trying to fit in at school while at the same time trying to help her mum who is struggling with the change in culture (especially language) while being in what appears to be a state of depression. It is beautifully written. It is a story that really touches the heart.
Brona's Books
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lovely, heart-warming story for mature 8+ readers.

Refugee issues of fear, belonging and fitting in are discussed tenderly and thoughtfully via Jamila's story.

The power of song and music to be inclusive shines through every page.

Touches on how to make friends, to stand up for yourself, to embrace diversity and still honour your family and traditions.

Highly recommended
Kerryn Lawson
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an absolutely beautiful, delightfully tender story of family and friendship but most importantly the struggles families face when settling in a country that is not their own, often without their whole family. I challenge anyone reading this story not to be moved by the end of the book. Loved it.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
A story about courage in the face of frightening adversity. How do you make friends when you look different, have trouble keeping up with the language everyone else speaks, fear for your father and his friends, and have to take on adult responsibilities because your mum is depressed and not coping? This is a powerful story for readers around Year 5 and up.
Anna Davidson
A gentle story about Jamila, a young refugee girl, settling into Australian life. I enjoyed the way the book explored friendships as well as the challenges Jamie’s and her family faced with a new culture.
Wendy Bridges
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous book
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
so emotion and heart wrenching - i cried throughout at least the last 50 pages ❤️
Josephine Burks
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Decent book probably for upper primary aged kids about the struggles of a refugee/migrant girl Jamila from Iraq and her transition to life in Australia.
Kylie Duthie
A lovely story about a young refugee girl and her struggles. Written for upper Primary School students.
Dianne Wolfer
I loved this story about friendship and being brave.
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Ingrid Laguna is an author, EAL educator and musician. As a percussionist, singer and songwriter, Ingrid has toured Europe, Asia and Australia, recorded several albums, and taken percussion and song writing workshops. With performance group Ruby Fruit Jungle, she supported Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, playing at Australia's biggest entertainment venues. In the Australian film indust ...more

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24 likes · 21 comments
“I have had the privilege of building relationships with many Iraqi and Syrian refugee children over recent years, and their resilience has inspired Songbird. My students have been warm and hopeful and full of fight, despite unimaginable challenges. Jamila, the story’s main character, embodies many of their qualities and some of their stories.” 0 likes
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