Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

From Far Away

Munsch, Robert (Author)
Askar, Saoussan (Author)
Green, Rebecca (Illustrator)
Annick Press 2017. 32 pages
First published: 1995
ISBN: 9781554519392 (paperback)
9781554519408 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Not just written from the perspective of a young refugee, this story is co-written by a young girl who came to Canada from Beirut when she was five years old. The story begins in her war-torn city: “Even where my sister and I slept, there were holes in the wall.” The felt pen illustration shows their family home with a gaping hole in the kitchen.

The transition to school in Canada is difficult for Saoussan because she is not with her family and she does not speak English. She describes sneaking away to the washroom when her teacher isn’t looking because she doesn’t know how to ask. One day she opens the door to the washroom and is horrified to see a skeleton. It’s just a Halloween decoration, but Saoussan lets out a terrified scream. Her teacher and the other students are kind and friendly, though, and eventually, “I learned enough English to make friends, and school started to be fun.”

The text has the genuine voice and rhythm of a child’s writing and features a charming honesty: “I jumped onto (my teacher’s) lap and pee went down my legs because I was scared to death.”

The lifelike illustrations focus on the expressions on people’s faces. Saoussan is often depicted as fearful and confused while her teacher and classmates appear concerned and curious. By the final page, Saoussan appears happy and relaxed in her new country. “I decided that Canada is a nice place, and I changed my name from Saoussan to Susan, but my mother made me change it back.”

  •  

    Examine the book cover. Go for a picture walk and make predictions about the story. As it is read aloud, discuss how your predictions were in line with the story.

  •  

    Saoussan changes her name to Susan. Discuss why she would want to make that change and why her mother tells her to change it back.

  •  

    How can you help a new student who does not speak the languages spoken in class? Create a kit to help this person feel welcome in your classroom.

  •  

    Saoussan is extremely afraid of the skeleton. Write about a time when you felt deeply afraid. How was your situation similar to or different from Saoussan’s?

  •  

    Examine the book cover. Go for a picture walk and make predictions about the story. As it is read aloud, discuss how your predictions were in line with the story.

  •  

    Discuss and compare your life in English class and Saoussan’s new life in a Canadian classroom. Use a graphic organizer to show how they are similar or different.

  •  

    Discuss how to help a new student who does not speak the school language. Create a kit that will help this person feel welcome in your classroom.

  • To cooperate with others
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Geography, History and Citizenship