This is a powerful and timely story about one boy's epic journey across Africa to Europe, a graphic novel for all children with glorious colour artwork throughout. From Eoin Colfer, previously Irish Children's Laureate, and the team behind his bestselling Artemis Fowl graphic novels.
His sister left months ago. Now his brother has disappeared too, and Ebo knows it can only be to make the hazardous journey to Europe.
Ebo's epic journey takes him across the Sahara Desert to the dangerous streets of Tripoli, and finally out to the merciless sea. But with every step he holds on to his hope for a new life, and a reunion with his sister.
I read my first real graphic novel in my twenties – Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – it was amazing. Not only the storytelling and the story to be told, but the fact that this huge and terrible part of history could be told in a simple and easier to understand way. Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin also does just that. We are all very aware of the horrible refugee crisis in our world but perhaps many of us do not know of the journey that these people need to go through in order to reach a new country. Told through the eyes of young Ebo, we learn about where he lives in Africa and his desire to leave his home town where there is no work and little family left. Following his older brother he makes a dangerous journey into the town of Agadez where he meets his older brother. It is there that they work hard to leave the city and make the perilious journey through desert and then the sea for a better life. The reader experiences the highs and the many lows of Ebo’s journry. Andrew Donkin’s illustrations show the reader the love, hope and desperation of the people. We are also able to see the harshness of the desert and the terror of the sea. Through Eoin Coulfer’s storytelling we feel Ebo’s emotions, understand his desires and hope for a better future with him. We meet other refugees who also desire a better life and we learn why they risk everything in order to reach a country, which they think will help them. Illegal is a story that needs to be shared. The way refugees are treated by many countries is beyond comprehension and this story just shows how desparate theses people are. No one would ever undertake the journey if they didn’t need to. At the end of the story the reader can view a map with explanation of where Ebo travels which I found and those children I shared the story with most informative. There is also another short graphic story at the end of Illegal, that speaks to us about a young refugee woman. This story brings to light the plight of young women who may be travelling with young children or pregnant and their desperation to flee terror and poverty. Illegal is a story to share and a story to reflect on. It is a story that will hopefully stir emotion and action so that more people do not need to take these journeys. Check out my blog: educateempower.blog for some teaching tips.
Eoin Colfer is the author of the internationally bestselling Artemis Fowl series, which has been translated into over forty languages. A Disney film adaptation will be released in 2019, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Dame Judi Dench. Eoin's books have won numerous awards including The British Children's Book of the Year, The Irish Book Awards Children's Book of the Year and The German Children's Book of the Year. Born in Ireland, Eoin was educated at Dublin University and qualified as a primary teacher, before turning his hand to writing in 2001. Highfire, his first adult fantasy novel, will be published by Jo Fletcher Books in January 2020.