Young Abia has lived in the Shimelba Refugee Camp for more than seven years and longer than any of her friends. Papa tells Abia that it’s far too long to have to live in the camp, but Abia disagrees and thinks “it’s the perfect amount of time to become a queen.”
And that’s what Abia calls herself—Queen Abia. Papa offers the youngster support by weaving her a crown from the acacia tree. Sometimes Abia is Queen of the Fields as she marches through the surrounding fields with her soldiers—her friends. At other times, she’s Queen of Balance as she carries a bucket filled with water on her head home to Mama. Abia is sure she's the strongest of all the queens because she pounds cassava root to make flour. And when the hyenas howl, she howls right back so they know she is Queen of the Hills.
When Papa tells Abia that they need to move to another home, Abia is afraid because “forever homes are in strange and faraway lands.” Mama reassures her that, though they’ll leave behind all they own, they’ll still have their stories. As Abia thinks about finding her way in a new country, she knows she’ll still be able to march, balance heavy loads, and be strong—and that she’ll still be a queen.
This children’s picture book chronicles the life of a creative, resilient fictional refugee child based on the reality of millions of refugee children worldwide. It’s magnificently illustrated with age-appropriate depictions of war, vibrant domestic scenes in the camp, and hopeful portrayals of life in a new land.
Author Mary Wagley Copp shares notes on the current refugee situation in the world and a list of books about refugees and resettlement. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)