A beautiful hardback picture book I picked up at the Scholastic Warehouse sale, at 32 pages long and an AR level 3.2, Four Feet, Two Sandals, works well as both a story time selection to younger students and as independent reading for up to 5th grade. The story is about two refugee girls that come to know each other when relief workers throw donated clothes for the people and Lina and Feroza each end up with one sandal each of a beautiful pair. Rather than fighting or being ungrateful, the girls work out a plan so that they can both enjoy the sandals and in the process, become friends. The girls share their stories with one another, and thus the reader, about how their families have been affected by war and how they came to be at this refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan. The girls dream of school and their futures and show the readers a bit of their daily struggles getting water and doing chores. When Lina’s name shows up on a list to go to America, and Feroza’s does not, the friends must part and decide who gets the sandals.
While it probably bothers some that America is seen as the saving grace to sweep Lina to a better life and pander to an American audience. I think it makes sense seeing as the book was co-authored by the executive director of the Pittsburgh Refugee Center and was inspired by a refugee girl who asked “why there were no books about children like her.” Clearly refugees do get a chance at a new life when other countries open their borders and stories like this that give our children insight into the world they have left behind, with the hopes of fostering compassion, is something that I definitely want to share with my own children and students.
The author’s website and reading guide: http://www.karenlynnwilliams.com/files/sandals_guide.pdf