A True Person, written by Gabiann Marin, illustrations by Jacqui Granford.


Following the journey of Zallah, the third person prose is elegantly and compassionately positioned next to an issue that is the global humanity crisis of our time. The intensity of Granford’s work is best displayed in the close up of Zallah’s eye. With each pair of pages, a little piece of Zallah is given to us. This is an evocative and contemporary tale that must be openly discussed.

While the pain and suffering is undeniable, the bond between mother and daughter embodies the hope that those fleeing tyranny must have. In one image, after Zallah has made the journey across the seas, has her locked behind wire. The wire across her cherub face will break your heart. The colours of Australia, those earthy ancient colours are contrasted with the cold grey wire fence. 

Inside the detention centre, Zallah mets Mwalo, an African boy who has been behind bars for two years. The message of what could be a new wave of multiculturalism if politics did not interfere is vital for the adults and young readers engaging with the book.

Mwalo captures the situation with a child’s innocence:

‘A true person has all his papers.’

‘If you have all your papers you are real. You can say who you are and they let you out of here sooner.’ 

Every Australian should read this. The final question that will haunt every reader is: what if it was my wife, what if Zallah was my daughter, sister, cousin, or friend? Would you let this happen to your friend?

A must for any classroom is A True Person and the accompanying LPC Pack, also available through Educational Experience.