Written by Alan Gratz

Publisher’s Summary:
Although separated by continents and decades, Josef, a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany; Isabel, a Cuban girl trying to escape the riots and unrest plaguing her country in 1994; and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy in 2015 whose homeland is torn apart by violence and destruction, embark on harrowing journeys in search of refuge, discovering shocking connections that tie their stories together.

Primary Source Pairing:
The three stories of our main characters are expertly woven together by author Alan Gratz in the book Refugee. To build the background knowledge of readers, use primary sources to further visualize the settings of the stories of Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud. For this primary source pairing, invite students to analyze three images, each representing one character from the book. Make connections to the settings and the journeys of each character.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What people and objects are shown?
  • How are they arranged?
  • What is the physical setting?
  • What’s happening in the image?
  • What is similar in these three images? What is different?
  • Using visual evidence from the primary sources, make a textual connection to something you read in the book Refugee.
  • How do primary sources help you understand the stories of Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Josef: St. Louis ship in Hamburg photograph: Wikimedia Commons
Additional information on the St. Loius:

Isabel: Cuban immigrant photograph: Moody College of Communication, Creative Commons license on Flickr.

Mahmoud: Syrian girls, carrying school bags photograph: Jordi Bernabeu Farrús, Creative Commons license on Flickr.