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A Story of Hope
Longlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal

A refugee story of extraordinary power and beauty from the Amnesty CILIP Honour-winning author of The Bone Sparrow, Zana Fraillon, and Kate Greenaway Medal-winning illustrator Grahame Baker Smith.

Idris is a child refugee, born into a world of tents and fences. He has known no other life than this. He has no memories of the world outside.

Then the Wisp arrives, floating in on the evening breeze. Everyone who holds it finds their memories reawakened, their hopes of freedom reborn. But what about Idris, who has no memories? What will happen when he holds the magical Wisp?

Storytelling and imagination have the power to offer hope in this extraordinary picture book from the Amnesty CILIP Honour-winning author of The Bone Sparrow, Zana Fraillon, and Kate Greenaway Medal-winning illustrator Grahame Baker Smith.


"Idris is a small boy in a small, dark world – a refugee camp where he has spent his whole life. The people there are lonely and suspicious, and have slowly had their memories and wishes worn away by sadness. One evening, bright little wisps of light start to appear in the camp,carrying back memories of happier times and the taste of hope for better ones.

Zana Fraillon, a past winner of The Readings Children’s Book Prize for her book The Bone Sparrow, brings her characteristic warmth and urgency to the picture book format, beautifully accompanied by moody illustrations by Grahame Baker-Smith. Highly recommended for ages 3+."

(George Delaney, Readings Kids.)

"The combination of the moving story, so simply and eloquently told, with the beautiful and involving illustrations will be an inspiration to all readers. The rather dark palette reflects the world that Idris lives in, with a hint of tents and barbed wire. But the pages where the Wisp spreads the light of hope, reflected in Idris’ eyes and on his face, are beautiful. Wisp is a powerful, evocative book for our times and is recommended for readers five and up but should really be read by young and old alike."

(Margaret Hamilton, Books and Publishing)

"Wisp is written in the language of metaphors, a style frequently used in Zana Fraillon’s work in such an accomplished way that it catches your breath...This is a picture book depicting hope and rebirth; of the elimination of darkness caused by ignorance, and new beginnings.

(Kids Book Review)

"Heartbreakingly beautiful, Wisp tackles the despair of life as an asylum seeker. Fraillon’s poetic storytelling takes the reader on an extraordinary journey before the aching realisation of what it means to be a child in a refugee camp. Wisp makes comment on both the beauty and despair of the people who are victims of brutal government policies and the place of children within detention centres.

The illustrations by Kate Greenaway Medal-winning Graham Baker Smith are an aptly oppressive canvas of blues and blacks. There is a beautiful sadness to the skilful use of light and the hope it signifies.

Written by Amnesty CILIP Honour-winning author of The Bone Sparrow, Zana Fraillon’s Wisp is a moving story and a powerful tool for developing empathy and compassion."

(Fiona Miller-Stevens, CBCA Reading Time)

"Rich with beauty...Fraillon’s turn of phrase is poetic and lilting and this adds to the spine-tingling, heart-rending feel of the book...Evocative and current yet timeless, this exquisite picture book would work particularly well with children in Key Stage 2 around themes of war, freedom and captivity but could also be really effective as a whole-school project text."

(The Literary Curriculum)

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