From Kinglake to Kabul

When an Afghan rug is made, many knots are tied. Each one is a connection between individual strands. Standing back from the work, a strange magic occurs. The rug can be seen in its beautiful entirety: the intricate design, the startling colour, the richness of materia. So it is in this book, each story knot tying people and two resilient communities together forever.

From Kinglake to Kabul is a collection of stories, both fiction and factual. The stories come from an international school in Kabul in Afghanistan and from secondary students from Kinglake who were affected by the Black Saturday fires of February 7 2009. Here, teenagers, supported by family, teachers and others, discover that despite the apparent difference in their appearance, landscape and history, they have much in common. Contributors not only write their own story, but in some cases, respond to the stories of others. Sometimes they are surprised at the similarities in their lives, sometimes by the difference. But always there is empathy and enhanced understanding of themselves and of others.

A collection of stories from a war-torn, faraway country and a fire-ravaged community. From the outside, it could be difficult to expect this to be an easy or a fun read. But it is. It has sadness, plenty of that, but the overwhelming sense is of people surviving, finding ways to not only survive but thrive in challenging circumstances. It doesn’t pretend life is easy, but demonstrates the resilience and humour of humans all over our world. There are Afghan stories of returned refugees and the other-nationals who help them. There are stories of those who escaped unimaginable terror, changed but not beaten. The stories are creatively and effectively linked by the editors, giving connection to very disparate stories. This is a fabulous collection which should be read by everyone, but particularly those who don’t yet understand that we are one people. Recommended for upper primary and beyond.

From Kinglake to Kabul, Ed Neil Grant and David Williams
Allen & Unwin 2011
ISBN: 9781742375304

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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