United Talent Agency
Elise Bellin, Librarian of the Islamic Resource Center, wrote this book review as part of an ongoing series that focuses on a range of books within the IRC collection as a service to the community.
Lubna and Pebble
Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus
We live in a world that we all wish were a little kinder, a little safer, a little less violent, and a whole lot more fair. The only way to arrive at that place is for people to reach outside of themselves, give of themselves, and share some kindness. At its core, that is the message of Lubna and Pebble.
Lubna is a young refugee girl from an unnamed country torn apart by war. When she finds herself in an unnamed refugee camp, simply referred to as “a world of tents,” she finds a beautiful white pebble and decides it’s her friend. She draws a smiley face on it and tells it all of her secrets, all of her dreams. A young boy arrives, named Amir. He is silent and friendless. He is all alone and needs compassion. Lubna befriends him and they do everything together, all the while making sure that Pebble knows it is still her best friend. When her father announces he has found them a home and it is time to leave the refugee camp, Lubna is conflicted. While she is joyful for a place of permanence and safety, she must leave a good friend. Her solution is a moment of true heart-warming tenderness. She takes her shoebox and places Pebble gently in it with the marker and gives it to Amir. She imparts the wisdom of the Pebble to him. If the Pebble gets worn and starts to look like it’s forgetting her, draw the smile back on. When Amir misses her, tell the Pebble everything. She knows that in doing so not only is she leaving two friends to comfort each other (even if one is a bit more imaginary), she is giving hope to a boy who needs it. Her kindness will make his life brighter.
Told in short, easy to understand sentences, Lubna and Pebble is drawn in unbound watercolor, pastel, and charcoal images. What I mean is that the images are not drawn with outlines. I’ve heard the technique described as “drawing with value instead of line.” Another way to look at it is that boundaries and borders limit. Her message is without borders and so the images follow suit. It is the innate kindness personified. When combined with the overwhelming blues and occasional crimsons, we get the feeling of calm in the midst of uncertainty, of safety and kindness in a world that can sometimes be unfair. What a powerful message that is for a child in need of solace.
Founded in 2010, the Islamic Resource Center (IRC) is the first Islamic public lending library in Wisconsin. The IRC aims to provide resources to educators, students, health professionals, interfaith groups, and any members of the Milwaukee community that want an accurate understanding of the Islamic faith, its practices, and its people.