Learning About Life as a Refugee and Working with Victoria Jamieson - by Abby Heider
Updated: Jul 16
I did not know much about life inside a refugee camp. But then I attended an author talk about a graphic novel called When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. Mr. Omar told Ms. Victoria the story of his life inside a refugee camp in Kenya. That was how the book started. I asked Mr. Omar what his favorite books were when he was a kid, and he replied that he did not have books growing up. As a book lover, I was awestruck, because I personally could not live without books. But he listened to stories that the older people in the camp told him.
I also learned that there were not enough schools or teachers for the kids in the refugee camp. The kids who were able to go to school had to share resources like notebooks. And also there was only one meal a day. But what Mr. Omar never forgot was an act of kindness that he experienced. He said that it only took one person to make a difference.
I asked the two what it was like to work together, and Ms. Victoria said she had volunteered with refugees in her town and that made her eager to write a story about a refugee. Because her two previous books, Roller Girl and All’s Faire in Middle School, were autobiographical, it was a different challenge to write about someone else’s life. Ms. Victoria practices drawing for fun, and when she wants to make a realistic face, she looks in the mirror and models it off her own face. Some of Ms. Victoria’s favorite books when she was a kid were books by Beverly Cleary. She reread them over and over again.
Do you want to help refugees? If so, Mr. Omar started a nonprofit called Refugee Strong. This nonprofit helps displaced refugees.
Second Star Middle Grade Book Club member. Abby Heider is a rising 5th grader who loves dogs and wants to be a mechanic when she grows up.
Relive Abby's incredible interview with Victoria & Omar below: