Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog, by Rosanne Hawke

That was when he noticed the water. It was all around him as big and deep as the sea Mr Nadeem spoke about. It splashed at the trunk of the tree just below his charpai.
‘Hei! I’m going to drown.’
Jehan closed his eyes to pray, then opened them again.
It wasn’t a dream.

Jehan’s life is uncomplicated. he goes to school, plays cricket with his friends, and helps with the chores his parents give him. His little brother might annoy him sometimes, and others he wishes someone else could fetch the water, but really he is happy with his close knit family. But when the monsoon comes early and causes a massive flood, Jehan is swept away on his bed – his charpai – and finds himself stranded in a tress, with the waters all around him.

As the days stretch by, with no rescue, Jehan has to use all his resources to figure out how to stay alive. Then he rescues a dog who has also lost her family and the pair offer each other hope as they struggle for survival.

Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog is a charming story of survival, set in flood-torn Pakistan. Hawke gives an insight into life in rural Pakistan and to the impact of natural disasters, with the events based on the real-life floods which ravaged the country in 2010.

As well as being an intriguing read on its own, Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog is also a companion book to Kelsey and the Quest of the Porcelain Doll.

Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog, by Rosanne Hawke
UQP, 2017
ISBN 9780702259609

The Truth About Peacock Blue, by Rosanne Hawke

9781743319949.jpgMrs Abdul and the officer stopped in front of me and I stood in respect. She had been angry with me constantly, regularly beat me, but she had never spat words at me like she did then, as if I was a bazaar dog with rabies.
‘This is the girl, officer, who blasphemed the Holy Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him.’
Rabi gave a cry. I couldn’t say a word; I was too shocked.

Aster was named after a girl who had to fight against the persecution of her minority faith. Aster, too, belongs to a to a minority. She is a Christian growing up in Pakistan. When she is given the opportunity for a high school education she plans to study hard to make a difference for herself and for her grieving parents. But not everybody at the school is welcoming, and one teacher dislikes her intensely – because of her faith. Aster tries to keep her head low and study hard to please the teacher, but a mistake in an exam has devastating consequences, when she is accused of blashpemy. Marched out of school by police and thrown in prison, Aster’s predicament escalates rapidly.

The Truth About Peacock Blue is a gripping tale of life for one girl in Pakistan, giving an insight into the predicaments of minority faith groups and indviduals, as well as the rights of women. In prison, Aster meets other women who have been wrongly accused and are harshly treated, left in limbo for lengthy periods of time. Communication with her Australian-based cousin, who runs a blog and starts a petition, allows other perspectives, incuding those of commenters on Maryam’s blog.

Aster’s case is fictional, but mention is made of real life cases including those of Asia Bibi and Malala. As well as being an absorbing story, The Truth About Peacock Blue will also aid in understanding such situations, which can seem far removed from contemporary Australian life.

An important look at social justice and freedom.

The Truth About Peacock Blue, by Rosanne Hawke
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781743319949

I, Migrant, by Sami Shah

Afterwards, standing in front of my smashed car, the attending policeman told me, ‘You should have hit the fakking thing. You shoulda just hit the fakking thing.’ But all I could think was, ‘No I couldn’t. I’m an immigrant and I don’t think it would look very good if I’d killed your national emblem.’ It seemed like the sort of thing that might come up in my citizenship exam later.

As a child, Sami Shah didn’t picture a future for himself which involved relocating to rural Australia, nor did he see himself as a stand up comedian. But after growing up in Karachi and studying in the United States, he gradually found that Pakistan was not the place he wanted to raise his daughter. After saving and planning for three years, he and his wife and child found themselves living in Northam, a town they’d never even heard of, and trying to make a go of life as migrants.

I, Migrant: A Comedian’s Journey from Karachi to the Outback does much more than trace Shah’s journey to Australia. From his childhood, through to his years living in the United States – including how it was to be a Pakistani Muslim in the US after 9/11 – and his adult life back in Pakistan, the reader is privy to his life, his motivations, and his eyes and lows. We also see his development as a comedian – both in Pakistan, and as he re-establishes himself in Australia. Significantly, we get an insider’s view of life in Pakistan, and the life of a migrant in Australia.

Shah’s voice is humorous, but it is also honest and very insightful, so that readers will laugh, cry, squirm uncomfortably and applaud. Mostly, though, you’ll come to feel like you know Sami Shah – and feel so much richer for that friendship.



I, Migrant: A Comedian’s Journey from Karachi to the Outback, by Sami Shah
Allen & Unwin, 2014
ISBN 9781743319345

Available from good bookstores and online.