Children's and Teens' Book of the Month: Welcome to Nowhere
Book: Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird | Age category: 10+ years
This thought-provoking new release from Elizabeth Laird takes us right back to the moment when civil war began in Syria in March 2011, before following the devastating impact since then through the eyes of 12-year-old Omar.
Omar is a businessman in the making, selling postcards to tourists when he’s not at school, but when the bombings and shootings begin, Omar’s customers disappear and his home comes under attack. Omar and his family must then flee to the countryside with whatever they can carry, but it’s not long before the violence spreads and they have to travel further from home than ever before, not knowing what lies ahead and how they will survive.
Although these tragic events are far removed from what many readers have experienced, the detail Elizabeth Laird includes about how ordinary family life in Syria has been affected by civil war really brings us to the heart of this devastating story which is a reality for many people. Welcome to Nowhere is an important story for our time, providing young readers with a glimpse into the experiences of their peers who have been driven from their homes by violence and forced to grow up in terrible circumstances.
We have 5 copies of Welcome to Nowhere to be won! To be in with a chance of winning one, just answer this question:
When did the civil war in Syria begin?
Send your answer to Sarah Mallon at firstname.lastname@example.org. The competition closes on Tuesday 31 January at 5pm. Entrants must reside in the UK.
Q&A with Elizabeth Laird
The civil war in Syria is happening right now, and affecting millions of families. How far is your story based on the real experiences of these families?
Welcome to Nowhere is based on the real-life stories of several different people I met in Jordan. I worked in two refugee camps (running writing workshops for teachers) and also met refugees living outside the camps in difficult circumstances in Amman. They told me in detail what had happened to them. Back in the UK, I was helped by a Syrian friend, who gave me a lot of information about life in Syria both before and after the start of the war, especially about the awful experiences of her family in Aleppo.
What other books would you recommend to children wanting to find out more about the world around them?
There are some great books around if you want to read about real-life events. Here are a few recommendations: Asylum by Rachel Anderson, The Wall by William Sutcliffe, Azzi in Between by Sarah Garland, Gorilla Dawn and Scarlet Ibis by Gillian Lewis, Burn my Heart by Beverley Naidoo, Everybody Jam by Ali Lewis… and there are so many more!
Do you have any tips for aspiring young writers?
I’ve got three tips for aspiring writers. Here’s the first: Read as much as you can. Don’t stick to one genre, but try all kinds of different books. Here’s the second: Practise writing. Keep a diary. Write letters to people. Write stories. Just write! And here’s the third: Get out into the real world and do stuff. Meet people. Go places. Have adventures. Stay safe, but build up your inner store of life experiences. Only then will you have something to write about.
Don't forget to enter our competition to win a copy of Welcome to Nowhere!