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The Bone Sparrow, Australian edition
The Bone Sparrow, US edition, soft cover
The Bone Sparrow, UK edition, soft cover
The Bone Sparrow


Winner of the Amnesty CILIP Honour Award

Winner of the ABIA Book of the year for Older Readers

Winner of the Readings YA Book Prize

IBBY Australian Honour Book

CBCA Honour Book 2017 - Older Readers

Shortlisted for the Carnegie Award

Shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize

Shortlisted for the 2017 Prime Minister's Literary Award

Shortlisted for the INKY awards

Shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Award

Shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Award

Born in a refugee camp, all Subhi knows of the world is that he's at least 19 fence diamonds high, and that the nice Jackets never stay long. But his world is far bigger than that—every night, the magical Night Sea from his mother's stories brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. And as he grows, his imagination threatens to burst beyond the limits of his containment.

The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie—a scruffy, impatient girl who appears on the other side of the wire fence. She carries a notebook that she's unable to read and wearing a sparrow made of bone around her neck - both talismans of her family's past and the mother she's lost - Jimmie strikes up an unlikely friendship with Subhi beyond the fence. As he reads aloud the tale of how Jimmie's family came to be, both children discover the importance of their own stories in writing their futures.

Subhi and Jimmie might both find comfort—and maybe even freedom— as their tales unfold. But not until each has been braver than ever before. 


'A special book' 

(Morris Gleitzman)



‘Outstanding… This is an important, heartbreaking book with frequent, unexpected humour, that everyone, whether teenager or adult, should read.’

(The Guardian)


'The writing is beautiful and the message of survival and bravery a universal one.'  ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️      

(The Bookseller)

'Think of it as a powerful polemic, yes, but also think of it as a story of the redeeming power of friendship and the vital nature of storytelling.'   ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️                

(The Bookbag)

'So beautiful, so hopeful, so heartbreaking, so special.'        

(Katherine Webber Book Trust)

'Thought-provoking and affecting'

(School Library Journal)

'This is a tragic, beautifully crafted and wonderful book whose chirpy, stoic hero shames us all. I urge you to read it.'

(Janette Wolf, The Independent)

'Fraillon has crafted a unique voice in her exquisitely written...exalted, flawless book.'

(Joy Lawn, The Australian Newspaper)

'An incredibly moving and powerful story about hope, freedom and survival. This is such an important topic, and a heart-achingly realistic story - everyone, both teenagers and adults, should read it.' ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️        

(Rachel Meier, Waterstones Canterbury

‘The Bone Sparrow is a heart-renderingly beautiful story’

(Crime Review)

'Moving and memorable, The Bone Sparrow deserves to be read by all who care about our common humanity.'

(S.F. Said, for The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize)

'The Bone Sparrow will be highly acclaimed and will be on Literature reading lists. Get in early, read it now. Don’t let the marketing aimed at children fool you: this book is loaded for adults.' ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️                      

(Dark Matter Zine)

'A heart-rending, beautiful story. From the first line I knew that I would be utterly moved by the words written so passionately, weaving a narrative that is at times difficult to read. This is a book that will make change happen.' ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️                                

 (The Book Activist blog and Reading Zone) 

What a powerful story. Detention camps are no place for children. No place for humans.'

(Clare Hall-CraggsBook Trust)


'So beautiful. And so important...encourages empathy. For kids and adults alike!'                     (The Book Addict blog)

'A powerful and poetic tale of friendship.'

(Katherine Marsh)

'This tale is breathtaking and indispensable'

(Briana Shemroske - Booklist)

‘it is a heartrending tale about how our stories make us, and also an angry polemic, vividly convincing in its detailed description of what it means for your home to be a tent in the dust behind a guarded fence.’

(Sunday Times)

‘The Bone Sparrow is one of those rare, special books that will break your heart with its honesty and beauty, but is ultimately hopeful and uplifting.’


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