Sunday, March 5, 2023

*Review* Seeking Shanti by Jesse Byrd and Sandy Kaur Gill


Genre: Children's 5-8 years
Published: May 30, 2023
Pages: 40

After Kavya and her family are flooded out of their home in Southeast Asia, they have to make the difficult decision to return and try to rebuild or move away from their native land.

The creators of Seeking Shanti is the same team behind the non-profit Create-Structure and Better Shelter. Over the past five years, Better Shelter has collaborated with leading UN organizations, NGOs, governmental donors and the private sector to provide shelter for the displaced due to climate crises. So far, they have provided 60,000 shelters that benefit displaced families, classrooms and health care facilities in over 60 countries.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

This is a story about a family that has to escape a big storm that mostly destroys their home. As an American from the midwest, this is not something that I can really relate to. You don't try to outrun tornadoes, and if they destroy your house, you rebuild or buy or rent somewhere else, but typically nearby. "I don't know if it even makes sense to try and rebuild here" is not a thing anyone thinks after a tornado. So this book took me into an experience that I didn't have before. It's simplistic and lacking nuance because it's a children's book, but it did help me to recognize at least some of my privilege a little bit better. 

The illustrations were gorgeous. Lots of cool colors which I'm personally drawn to, showing life and the dangers in Shanti. Considering the backlash against refugees that is so prominent in America from certain segments of society, I would absolutely be okay reading this story several times because I think it's important for people to understand different life experiences. Overall I give this book 4.85 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Jesse Byrd is an international award-winning children’s book author and the youngest NPR Board member. At 6’8”, Jesse pivoted from playing basketball at UCSB to pursue his passion for storytelling. After working at Google in Silicon Valley and later EY in Dubai as Director of Communications for Middle East and North Africa, Jesse turned all of his energy toward his deepest love: making stories for youth and families with a focus on supporting diverse creators and #own voices material. He’s written six children’s books and helped produce over 40 others as an editor, art director, and publishing consultant. Jesse is based in Los Angeles, CA.

Sandy Kaur Gill is a school teacher of Punjabi decent originally from Toronto, Ontario. Monica Paolo Rodriguez is a Puerto Rico based illustrator and animator who has created art for Scholastic, Marvel, and more.

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