by Chi Emerole
Ryan Durney, illustrator
New! Short Review
Website: A Rose in the Desert is the story of a young girl, Rose, who awakens on her seventh birthday on the Tibetan mountains of Chad in a refugee camp. She is however determined to have a beautiful birthday. The story follows Rose through an adventurous day with her family and friends. Do you think she succeeded in her quest for a beautiful birthday?
First Sentence: Dawn broke on Friday, the twenty-first of April.
What the Story is About: Seven-year-old Rose wakes up on her birthday determined to have a great day. Thus far, her day was joyous. Her mother greeted her with her younger brother and then her father sent her on a sky-high ride in his arms. Then the day went back to normal, beginning with fetching water from the Geyser of Hope, balancing water jugs upon their heads.
Rose and her family, displaced by war, now living in a refugee camp in the Tibest Mountains of Chad. Worse, not all of the family is together. Still, Rose is determined to have a good birthday. After morning school, she and her three friends play in The Cave of Dreams, where the kids go to play music, dance, and try to forget their circumstances. Known as The Fearsome Foursome, Rose and her three friends hold a dance contest amongst themselves. Joshua was being crowned winner just as Rose’s parents and younger brother enter the cave with a luscious chocolate cake.
Rose closes her eyes and makes her birthday wish. She wants to be reunited with her Aunts, Uncles, and cousins, but after opening her eyes and blowing out the candles there is no extended family to greet her. Rose spends the evening playing with her brother. Near the end of the day, with the sun having set and the moon high upon her, Rose gets one last gift. A booming voice began singing Happy Birthday to Rose. It was her revered Uncle Daniel holding a teddy bear Rose left behind and presumed lost; a gift from a home she cannot yet return to.
What I Thought: The illustrations are wonderful dark shades depicting a refugee camp that has not lost hope, the desire to live, and the good nature to survive as a family unit. The images realistically depict an African backdrop with wild elephants and giraffes roaming the savannah. This is actually a very pleasant setting. The school has few students and meets outdoors where the engaged students seem interested in learning.
Young Rose lacks a conflict to solve and grow by on this particular day. I want to clarify this. Yes, this child, and the others, will face many obstacles and will have grown rapidly while residing at this camp. However, on this particular day, Rose’s seventh birthday, and the day the story details, everything goes smoothly. Rose wakes up, her parents warmly greet her, and Rose does chores, eats, attends school, plays with friends, eats her birthday cake, and then, mysteriously, has her wish come true. As a story, there is not much to commend.
A Rose in the Desert is beautiful throughout, thanks to artist Ryan Durney. Those collecting fine illustrations from children’s books may want to give A Rose in the Desert a long look. A bedtime story this is not. I so wanted to love this story of a young refuge, but she could have been waking up almost anywhere and have a similar stress-free, conflict-free, and plot-free day/story.
New! Short Review is HERE
by Chi Emerole website blog facebook twitter
Released November 9, 2011
Ages: 4 to 8
© 2011 by Chi Emerole, used with permission
Text: Copyright © 2011 by Chi Emerole
Illustrations: Copyright © 2011 by Ryan Durney
DONATED TO LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY