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No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton


Our ten year old daughter, TJ says this is one of the best books she’s ever read (and she’s not particularly interested in ballet!). TJ is a voracious reader, but this was her first exposure to other children’s lives as refugees. When asked to describe the book, she simply said ‘moving’ and it certainly is a thought-provoking story.


Aya is 11 years old and has just arrived in England with her mother and baby brother. The family is seeking asylum from war in Syria, however they have been separated from Aya’s father during their journey from Syria.


When Aya randomly discovers a local ballet class, the formidable dance teacher recognises her talent and says she has the potential to earn a scholarship. While Aya and her family attempt to create a new life they also have to fight for their right to remain in the country.


Catherine deftly shares Aya’s story while championing the rights of refugees in a way that young readers can easily relate to. Despite the complexity of asylum seekers, our daughter wanted to know more and we have since had interesting conversations about the issue.


Catherine Bruton is an English teacher and knows the impact stories can have on young readers – expanding their horizons, making them ask questions and see the world differently. Her novels tackle some of the world’s big issues including terrorism, immigration and the cult of celebrity in a way this is heart breaking but hopeful. Listen to author, Catherine Bruton read from No Ballet Shoes in Syria.


Reviewer: Andrea Molloy

Allen & Unwin, RRP $16.99

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