About The Refugee Diaries


‘The Refugee Diaries’

The 'Refugee Diaries', written by Anthony Robinson and Annemarie Young and illustrated by June Allan, are a series of books highlighting the plight of children who come to Britain with their families to escape persecution and violence.

Each book in the series, aimed at children of 8 plus, is the true story of one of the children, forced to flee their homes in search of refuge, and eventually finding it in the UK.

Gervelie is from the Republic of Congo; Mohammed is an Iraqi Kurdish boy; Hamzat is a Chechen boy who lost his leg to a landmine, and Meltem is a Kurdish girl from Turkey who was twice detained in Yarl’s Wood.

Gervalie's Journey

Gervelie was born in the Republic of Congo.
When fighting broke out in her home city of Brazzaville, her family had to flee to safety. Her father became a wanted man and was forced into hiding. The family was torn apart forever.
Gervelie and her father escaped the country and travelled to the UK to seek asylum. They are still unable to return home.
Anthony Robinson and Annemarie Young relate this true story through Gervelie’s own words. The story tells of the bravery of a father and daughter who survived terrible hardships and the horrors of war to seek a new life. It is a testament to all the people who are forced to leave their homes in the struggle to be free.

Reviews of 'Gervalie's Journey'

“Relates with understated poignancy the true story of a young child fleeing militia attacks and civil war in west Africa. Illustrated by an evocative combination of photographs and watercolours, it offers a happy ending of sorts..”
The Guardian

“In the world of today, many young people will meet refugees in school or in their community. Books like this will help them understand the suffering such victims endure.”


'Mohammed's Journey'

Mohammed was born in Kirkuk - the Kurdish part of Iraq. He speaks Kurdish, and now English too.
Saddam Hussein persecuted Mohammed's people long before he was born but Mohammed's journey started in October 2000 when Saddam's soldiers came to his house, beat him and his mother and took his father away. Mohammed never saw his father again.
This is his story. From that terrible night, to the escape from Iraq by bus, on horseback, in a small boat on a raging river and finally, hiding in a lorry on a ship. It covers his journey from Kirkuk to the Iraq-Iran border, through Iran, into Turkey and then on to England and safety.
Mohammed and his mother we were granted 'leave to stay' in England in 2002.


Reviews of Mohammed's Journey

With photos and realistic illustrations, this is a tribute to the resilience of people who fight against all odds for a better life. - Irish Examiner

A harrowing tale which should make readers proud of the welcome our country extends to people desperately in need of safety and freedom. - Northern Echo

June Allan's poignant illustrations are supplemented by photographs and there's a spread about the recent history of Iraq. This thought-provoking story would make a useful teaching aid. - Glasgow Herald

The concept is excellent and it is important for children to understand what life as a refugee would be like. - School Librarian

Children living in more politically stable countries can learn a lot from these books and appreciate better what it means to be free. The clever combination of photographs and watercolour illustrations, plus the useful glossary of facts, provide a wealth of authentic detail. - Carousel



Hamzat's Journey


This third book in the Refugee Journeys series follows the story of Hamzat, a boy from Chechnya. In 2001 when Chechens were at war with Russia, he was on his way to school in the capital Grozny when he stepped on a landmine. His leg had to be amputated and eventually he and his father went to the UK for expert treatment and fitting of an artifical leg. As it was unsafe for them to return to Chechnya, the family sought asylum in the UK. Eventually Hamzat's mother and sister joined them in London and now the family are learning to adapt to their new life after the horror of living in a war zone.
This poignant and at times harrowing story reveals the bravery of Hamzat and his family in facing and overcoming their circumstances to start a new life. Simply told and atmospherically illustrated with photographs and colour illustrations, this is a powerful book that will move all who read it and also be a valuable resource for supporting Citizenship learning in KS2 and KS3 classroooms and libraries.


Reviews of 'Hamzat's Journey'

Children living in more politically stable countries can learn a lot from these books and appreciate better what it means to be free. The clever combination of photographs and watercolour illustrations, plus the useful glossary of facts, provide a wealth of authentic detail - Carousel

8 plus or 80 plus, no-one could read Hamzat's Journey and come away unmoved or unchanged by the terrible experiences related. These stories in The Refugee Diary series need to be told and we, and the rest of the world, need to listen. - Armadillo Magazine

This is a beautifully written and illustrated book, and the poignant story will resonate deeply with children over 9. It will also be very useful for exploring aspects of Citizenship at KS2 and 3. - School Librarian


'Meltem's Journey'


This fourth book in the Refugee Diary series follows a Kurdish family from Eastern Turkey. 13 year old Meltem tells the story of their journey to the UK, and the harrowing months waiting to find out if they can stay in Britain. Meltem encounters racism, her father goes missing and the family is sent to Yarl's Wood detention centre. But the end of the story is full of hope for the future, as the family is at last given permission to stay in the UK and Meltem starts a new school and makes friends.


Reviews of 'Meltem's Journey'

Four stars: Meltem’s childhood of snatched chances of a normal home and school life is retold clearly as if in her own voice, without a trace of resentment or self pity, by Anthony Robinson. Both his text and June Allan’s illustrations emphasise the strength that Meltem draws from family and friends as much as the ordeal that they have been through and, like the previous books, the story ends on a positive note, although it cannot do for all such families. The book succeeds in its encouragement of understanding and empathy for Meltem and other refugee children. - Books for Keeps

Living as we do in a rich cultural mix of nationalities and cultures we often forget the hardship that many of our neighbours may have suffered on their journey to these shores. A very powerful and moving book, it tells the story of a Kurdish family who have arrived from Turkey... A harrowing tale, simply told and beautifully illustrated...it will act as a springboard and provide stimulus for discussion on the plight of refugees throughout the world. - School Librarian

This account is ideal for children living in a politically stable society, to inform them about their less fortunate peers in other countries and about these people's search for freedom and stability. - Ibby Link

Children could learn a lot about the plight of refugees and also better appreciate what it means to be free by reading this book. It really does make you think and empathise with the plight of others and promotes positive race relations.
- English 4-11