Canadian author, Marie-Louise Gay, explores the immigrant experience through the eyes of a small child. It fosters the concept of inclusion.
Mustafa has arrived in Canada and left behind a homeland scared presumably by war where there sky was “full of smoke and fire and loud noises”…”the trees were gray with dust and dry as sticks”. Mustafa visits the park in summer and fall, explores the flowers and insects, but is shy when approached by a girl with her cat on a leash. He does not understand her words. Their worlds eventually intersect through their drawings in the sand. Because he can’t communicate verbally, Mustafa begins to feel that he is invisible, but the “girl-with-the-cat” persists and uses sign language to engage him. They watch the fish, swing together, and she teaches Mustafa his first word – Maria, her name. Gay’s characteristic illustrations capture a variety of moods – wonder, fear, confusion, laughter, worry, and joy. Her illustrations further this gentle story of finding a friend and helping him fit into a new homeland; and, they highlight the overtures that even a child can make to help another feel included.