In audiobook version of Illegal, by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, a young West African orphan named Ebo embarks on a dangerous quest to find his older brother and sister and to begin a new life in Europe. With lively narration by an ensemble cast, the story begins near the end of the journey, with Ebo and his brother, Kwame, nearly drowning when the 6-person boat on which they are crowded with a dozen other refugees sinks in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. The boys’ narrow escape is followed by a flashback to a tiny village in Ghana, where several months earlier Ebo discovers that Kwame has left for Europe without him in search of the boys’ older sister, Sisi. As the story progresses, the chapters continue to shift back and forth between the past and the present. In the scenes from the past, Ebo travels alone to a refugee community in Niger, where he makes just enough money to survive by singing at public events and eventually reunites with Kwame. Together, the brothers barely survive a perilous trek across the Sahara Desert on their way to a seaport in Libya. In the later scenes, Ebo and Kwame find temporary safety on a ship loaded with refugees bound for Europe, only to face another catastrophe when the overcrowded vessel tilts into the sea from the weight of its passengers. With its candid depictions of treachery, violence, suffering, and the deaths of beloved characters, Ebo’s heartbreaking but inspiring story is recommended for older listeners (ages 10-14).
David Shirley ©2019 Parents’ Choice
David Shirley’s recent nonfiction titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fix It Leroy! His YA biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens.