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The Stray and the Strangers

The Stray and the Strangers


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The fishermen on Lesvos call her Kanella because of her cinnamon color. She’s a scrawny, nervous stray — easily intimidated by the harbor cats and the other dogs that compete for handouts on the pier.

One spring day a dinghy filled with weary, desperate strangers comes to shore. Other boats follow, laden with refugees who are homeless and hungry. Kanella knows what that is like, and she follows them as they are taken to a makeshift refugee camp in the parking lot of an abandoned nightclub. There she comes to trust a bearded man — an aid worker. She gradually settles into a contented routine, given shelter like the other refugees who line up for food and sleep on the ground for a few nights before being taken to a much bigger, permanent camp that the aid workers call Mordor.

Kanella grows healthy and confident. She has a job now — to keep watch over the people in her camp.

One day, a little boy arrives and does not leave like the others. He seems to have no family and, like Kanella, he is taken in by the workers. He sleeps on a cot in the food hut, and Kanella keeps him warm and calm. And then two new adults come to the camp. Kanella is ready to defend the boy from them, until she is pulled away by the bearded man. They are the boy’s parents, and now he must go with them.

The camp is eventually dismantled, and Kanella finds herself homeless again. Until one night, huddled in the cold, she awakens to see two bright lights shining in her eyes — the headlights of a car. The bearded man has come back for her, and soon Kanella is on a journey, too, to a new home of her own.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781773063812
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Publication date: 09/29/2020
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x (d)
Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
Age Range: 6 - 9 Years

About the Author

Steven Heighton is an award-winning author of poetry, novels and short stories. His work has been translated into ten languages, and his most recent novel, The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep, described as a literary thriller, was published to rave reviews in 2017. His most recent volume of poetry, The Waking Comes Late, won the 2016 Governor General’s Award for Poetry. He is also a fiction reviewer for the New York Times Book Review,and he has taught and presented at universities and literary festivals around the world. The Stray and the Strangers is his first work for young readers.

Melissa Iwai is the illustrator of more than 30 books, including Night Shift Daddy by Eileen Spinelli.

Read an Excerpt

All too soon the boy and the two boat strangers were climbing aboard a rumbling bus.

Kanella stood beside the bearded man, who was kneeling and gripping her by the ruff.

“You stay here with us, Kanella. This is your home, for now. He and his family will have to travel on and find one for themselves.”

With panicked eyes she watched the bus door close. Why was the bearded man allowing the boy to leave the camp?

The boy’s round face appeared in a square window, the woman’s face behind his. As she waved, she smiled, but the boy did not.

A frantic squeal burst out of Kanella’s chest. She wrenched herself free and sprinted after the bus as it pulled out onto the road.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for Steven Heighton and The Stray and the Strangers:

“Based on a true story, a poignant, heartwarming introduction to the lives of refugees.” — Kirkus, starred review

“A tender and compassionate story.” — School Library Journal

The Stray and the Strangers is not only a must-read, but it would be excellent as a teaching tool for human relations, globalization, empathy toward refugees and immigrants and basic human kindness.” — CM Review of Materials

“[S]uitable for reluctant readers.” — Winnipeg Free Press

"Beautifully written start to finish, this book is an absolute gem. … It’s a book that crosses all age lines. Get it. Read it. And please, Steven Heighton, write more young peoples’ books." — YA Dude Books Blog

"[T]he story as told from a dog’s perspective really drives home the point that compassion and kindness go a long way in life." — Mr. Alex's Bookshelf Blog

“[A] gently told story of refugees … [with] a lovely, unique tone.” — The International Educator Blog

“Kids who read this exceptional story will surely feel the importance of understanding the plight of refugees running from untenable conditions.” — Sal’s Fiction Addiction Blog

Praise for Steven Heighton:

“Heighton is a terrific writer.” — The Guardian

“Heighton’s writing would hold its own in any literary circle.” Chicago Tribune

“Heighton is an experienced adventurer in literary form ... a sense of boldness and risk-taking infuses [his work].” — New York Times Book Review

Customer Reviews