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Book Review: Wisp – A Story of Hope

Mar 25th 2019

We stumbled across ‘Wisp: A Story of Hope’, a truly stunning picture book, by chance while gathering together resources for our SMSC units of work on the theme of Refugees.

Among the books we chose, Wisp stands out like a shining light: one of those rare children’s books that gives you goosebumps as you read. Zana Fraillon’s enchanting command of language fused with Grahame Baker-Smith’s beguiling illustrations are a breath-taking combination.

The story centres around Idris, a young boy living in a refugee camp – surrounded by cold strangers and barbed wire fences. The bleak and lonely world in which Idris lives is conveyed so powerfully but in a very relatable, child-friendly manner.

“Idris lived in a small, small world. A world where fences grew from the dirt and where shadows ruled.”

Idris was all alone until one evening when a Wisp flew in on the evening breeze. The Wisp brings with it magic and hope, revealing to Idris the wonders of the world outside the camp, memories of a life of freedom and safety. Night after night more Wisps follow, but none are destined for Idris.

What follows is a heart-wrenching realisation that there are no memories for Idris to hold in his hands – he has lived within the fences of the camp his entire life. But as the title suggests, there is a Wisp for Idris, a seed of hope for a life yet to be lived.

The author paints such a beautiful picture with her words, even inventing her own – gentlied, softlied – you cannot help but be captivated by the story she weaves. The sobering reality brought to us through this enchanting book is the plight of millions of people, including unaccompanied children just like Idris, who have had to flee their homes and pass through the horrific reality of camps like this across the globe.

Read more about how Zana Fraillon wrote ‘Wisp: A Story of Hope’ here on the Booktrust website – a facinating insight into this awe inspiring book.

We love this book and however many times we have had to read it aloud on our training sessions we will never tire of it. We have used it in our SMSC themed unit for Year 4 but is suitable to use with children across KS2. Here are the details you need if you want to experience the magic of ‘Wisp’ too:

Wisp: A Story of Hope by Zana Fraillon

Pages: 32

Publisher: Orchard Books

ISBN: 978-1408350102

The Pathways to Write unit for ‘Wisp’ is available to purchase individually or as a whole school package on our website as part of our SMSC themed units on Refugees. 20% of our profits from the sale of these units will be donated to refugee charity ‘Share’.