Review of Lubna and Pebble

Lubna and Pebble
by Wendy Meddour; illus. by Daniel Egnéus
Primary    Dial    32 pp.    g
3/19    978-0-525-55416-5    $17.99

Wide-eyed Lubna befriends a pebble when she and her father arrive by boat at an unspecified refugee settlement she calls “a World of Tents.” She personalizes the small stone by drawing a happy face on it, telling it all about her family, the war that displaced her, and the home she left behind. Lubna assures Pebble that it is still her best friend after she bonds with Amir, a young boy who arrives at the settlement. When Daddy joyously announces to Lubna that he has found them a home, the emotionally conflicted girl, after great consideration, relinquishes Pebble to Amir. Promised stability in a new town, Lubna can hand over her one source of comfort to someone who needs it more. Meddour’s short, simple sentences pack an emotional punch. Upon her departure: “Lubna felt happy. Then sad. Amir cried.” The illustrations’ frequent use of curved lines in a palette of cool blues and greens with touches of crimson brings a sense of security to readers; one particularly emotive picture shows Lubna “asleep in Daddy’s salty arms,” the large man’s upper body forming a wide circle around his vulnerable child. In many spreads, Egnéus puts the reader on the ground (or even underwater where ships loom large), as if we are right there beside the children. Bookended by close-up views of Lubna’s face and then Amir’s, this tender, understated story honors the emotional resilience of young people.

From the March/April 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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