Available October 2021
Kalia has never known any life beyond the fences of the refugee camp. She lives there with her family, Hmong refugees who fled to Thailand in the aftermath of the Secret Wars in Laos during America’s Vietnam War. She plays with her cousins and the animals, and helps prepare the rations afforded the refugees. She wonders what is outside the concrete walls, until one day she asks her father. The next day he takes her to the top of a tree so she can see what is beyond.
Kao Kalia Yang’s book, (Amazon affiliate link) From the Tops of the Trees, can be an introduction for young children to the idea that refugee camps exist and that there are children like them living in them, before delving more into the stark realities of refugee camps, which the book doesn’t really touch besides a mention of rations. Rachel Wada’s soft illustrations tend to greens and yellows, emphasizing the trees mentioned in the title while also instilling a desolate sameness one might find in a camp.
Disclaimer: An advance copy of the book was provided by Lerner Publishing Group.