Author(s): Margriet Ruurs
When I was little, not so long ago, my brother, Sami, our friends and I played on sunbaked soil. We laughed, ran across rocks and sand, free as birds. Then the birds stopped singing.People began to leave our village. First a trickle, then a stream, across dusty fields under a burning sun, a stream driven by hope. Mothers, fathers, children, seeking a better place, a better life. Rama and her family are forced to leave behind everything they know and love. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama's family sets out to find refuge in Europe. Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr's stunning stone images illustrate Margriet Ruurs's thoughtful and moving story.
Margriet Ruurs is the author of many award-winning books for children. She was inspired to write Stepping Stones after she stumbled across the amazing stone artwork of Nizar Ali Badr on the Internet and saw the opportunity to both raise funds to help Syrian refugees and bring the work of Mr. Ali Badr to a wider audience. Margriet enjoys speaking about reading and writing to students at schools around the world. Her adventures have taken her to such countries as Myanmar, Pakistan, Laos, Tanzania and many others. Margriet was born in The Netherlands but has been a Canadian for most of her life. She lives with her family on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Nizar Ali Badr was born and still resides in Latakia, Syria. Living in one of the oldest civilizations on Earth, he has always been inspired to paint, sculpt and draw. In his walks along the seashore near the ancient port city of Ugarit, he always admired the stones on the beach and in the clear blue water. Now he gathers these stones and brings them home to his rooftop studio, where they become the medium for his art. These works in stone display a remarkable narrative quality, some based on the legends and tales told to him by his grandmother, others more contemporary in nature. An experienced sculptor, Nizar has never left his hometown or his country, though in his heart he accompanies the many Syrians who have been forced to flee their homeland because of ongoing violence.