Brazilian journalist Debora de Pina Castiglione and her sister, illustrator Beatriz, recorded eight tales in a collection of modern myths and fables invented by Syrian and Kurdish children living in Thessaloniki.
They worked with designers and translators to create a book now sold in 11 languages throughout Europe.
“Travelling Tales” aims to encourage communication between young refugees and others children, through the universal language of myth and wild imagination, Beatriz said.
“The stories created by the children are super happy, and full of creativity and adventure, and really funny.”
Beatriz, one of five illustrators to contribute to the book, said the sisters wanted to give children and their parents a chance to talk about the war and refugee crises.
But the book is above all an expression of childhood fun that should allow readers in communities hosting refugees to see the authors not as victims but as children, who share their excitement and fantastical imagination, she added.
Among the stories, readers find a plucky duck who lives in a chocolate house, a king who gets lessons in kindness from his children, and a battle between aliens and chickens for earth’s last remaining eggs.
“There’s a lot of fantasy: there are extraterrestrials, fairies, magic – it’s really diverse,” Beatriz said. Journalist Debora has volunteered in the Greek camps since August 2016 and said she and her sister had long dreamed of working together on a book.
Over four months, Debora hosted workshops with children aged between four and 14 in three camps – Vasilika, Lagadikia and Oreokastro – and in the city of Thessaloniki, to listen to stories and help children develop ideas.