Waves: for those who came across the sea

Inside the CBCA Shortlist

Waves: for those who came across the sea by Donna Rawlins, illustrated Mark Jackson & Heather Potter

Waves (Walker Books Australia) is narrative non-fiction structured chronologically to show ‘waves’ of refugee movement to Australia.

It is told in a factual style to show both current and historical reality and uses first person for engagement. The endpapers and notes at the end give additional background.

Waves of refugees shown here include:

Aboriginal Anak and family who moved to Australia 50,000 years ago on rafts.

European colonisation in the 1700s

Chinese goldrush in the 1850s

Afghan cameleers, who explored the inland

Forced child migrants in the late 1800s to 1960s

Jewish refugees

Vietnamese boat people such as Hau (meaning full of hope) in the late 1970s. They suffered pirate attacks, who stole females, food & water and left survivors on leaky boats. These landed in the Northern Territory from where refugees were then flown to new homes throughout Australia.

Muslim boy with his Middle Eastern name, Abdul, who escaped bullets and bombs and travelled by plane and boat. He says, “Maybe soon we will have our feet on the firm safe soil of our new home, all our troubles over, at last. Inshallah.”

So this book ends with a question; a hope.

Waves is more suitable for older primary-aged children due to the deaths by disease and drowning.

Using this book with students:

Read Abdul in Waves comes from similar Middle Eastern backgrounds to Indris in Wisp by Zana Fraillon and Faris in the novel Refuge by Jackie French. Several characters in Waves have corresponding characters in Refuge. Students compare and contrast these.

Explain Everything Whiteboard app The refugee subgenre is currently popular in YA and children’s books. Use the Explain Everything Whiteboard app to turn parts of Waves (and from other books about refugees) into live presentations. Record readings and possibly also add voice-overs giving further information, comments and feedback. Additional boxes of text, highlighting, videos, URLS and more can be added to further enhance and add areas of interest to the original written and visual text.


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