Author(s): Zana Fraillon
'A special book.' Morris Gleitzman
Sometimes, at night, the dirt outside turns into a beautiful ocean. As red as the sun and as deep as the sky. I lie in my bed, Queeny's feet pushing up against my cheek, and listen to the waves lapping at the tent.
Subhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention centre after his mother fled the violence of a distant homeland, life behind the fences is all he has ever known.
But as he grows, his imagination gets bigger too, until it is bursting at the limits of his world. The Night Sea brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie, a scruffy, impatient girl who appears from the other side of the wires, and brings a notebook written by the mother she lost.
Unable to read it, she relies on Subhi to unravel her own family's love songs and tragedies. Subhi and Jimmie might both find a way to freedom, as their tales unfold. But not until each of them has been braver than ever before.
Shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2016
a tragic, beautifully crafted and wonderful book - The Independent
Zana Fraillon was born in Melbourne, but spent her early childhood in San Francisco. 'I grew up in a house that had a whole room full of books and comfy chairs and this was my favourite place to be. As a teenager, a lot of my time was given to practising magic tricks and my first attempt at writing a book centred around a girl who solves crimes using her understanding of magic.' At the age of twenty, Zana lived for a year in China teaching English in a remote rural area. She returned to Melbourne and now lives with her husband, three children, two dogs and a recalcitrant cat. Zana has written picture books for young children, a standalone middle-grade novel and a series for younger readers that has been published in five languages. Her dreams of one day ending world illiteracy and innumeracy are far from being realised, but 'if you are going to dream, you might as well dream big.'