The Picture Book Ziba Came On A Boat Essay

The Picture Book Ziba Came On A Boat Essay

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Imagine, if only for a moment ‘being on an old soggy fishing boat that creaked and moaned as it rose and fell, rose and fell, across the endless sea...’

Traveling from her war-torn homeland in search of safety, and freedom, with only her mother’s comfort, such a long and anxious journey was a reality for young Ziba.
The picture book Ziba Came on a Boat is an emotional and touching story, based on fictional events, and personal experiences, which evoke incredible empathy towards Afghan refugees. The author, Liz Lofthouse, makes tribute to those who have inspired the book, by writing
“For our Afghan friends,
Who have given us an insight into a different life,
And who inspire us with their courage and determination.

The picture book follows a partial narrative structure, with the orientation beginning on an undisclosed fishing boat, with unknown faces, going to an unforeseen land. During the complication, Ziba’s mind begins to drift, and as her journey continues, so do the vivid memories of the life she left behind. Ziba remembers the happiness she felt, playing with her cousins at home, but she also remembers the darkness and fear, the ‘gunshots which echoed in the village’. The author chose not to incorporate a traditional ending, without a resolution, one can only hope Ziba reaches her destination safely. The emotional story of hope, suggests a recurring theme, which perhaps let’s audiences know that, it doesn’t matter where you come from, everyone deserves freedom. This is reiterated through the memorable word ‘Azadi’, whispered softy by her mother, meaning freedom.

The external focalisation used by Liz Lofthouse through third person narration, tells the thoughts of Ziba as she remembers home, projecting a sense of dis...


... middle of paper ...


...dhood and culturally specific scenes, such as carrying water jugs back to mud-brick homes, and preparing evening meals. The colouring of these memories are vivid, yet expressive, and show a wide angled view, with no focussed foreground. As the seas become rough, waves thrashing and storms brewing, the illustrations depict a war torn country, the depth of uncertainty, mystery, and constantly dismal colours, giving effect to Ziba’s recollection of -what seems to be- the reasons her and her mother left.


The beautiful combination of text and imagery present audiences with an authentic, emotional, and memorable reading experience. Although this picture book is intended for middle primary school children, the insightful theme, underlying concepts, and hidden cultural differences, invite opportunities for adults to discuss the language features, and visual grammar.

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