“…Loty Petrovits has successfully tried all kinds of children’s books for all ages. In her books, she does not hesitate to deal with themes considered difficult for young children, tackling interpersonal relations and feelings and/or bringing forward social matters, as is the case with this book referring to refugees. Without simplifying the problem, she places it at the level of children up to 9 years old, presenting it through the experiences of two young heroes of the same age. (...) The author deals with the theme “refugees” describing it accurately, realistically, without false sentimentalism. Her story, well balanced, unfolds the perplexity of the topic in a natural and explicit way, as she presents all those elements necessary for the comprehension of the young refugee’s legal and psychological situation, but also those concerning the activities of people in the receiving country. The Child from the Sea introduces children to one of the very serious contemporary sociopolitical problems. It is a multileveled work, a piece of literature but also a book of social education.» Τhe black coral “yousouri” is a miraculous sea tree, as people say. Here, the magic black coral becomes the symbol of love and death, in moments of the life of a group of children, who meet each other and get acquainted with the inhabitants of a seaside area. The beauty of the Greek nature and especially the seashore become the canvass hosting a variety of narrative means and a fast-paced rhythm. These elements, as form achievements of the author, mark an interesting, developing story, where suspense, tension, the unexpected and the imaginary are signalling some essential ingredients, such as problems between children and their parents, friendship, the first love, as well as love affairs that failed to take their course.”
Marisa de Castro, critic
TA NEA newspaper, 2 May 2009.
“It is not easy to talk to children about refugees, to explain the differences with immigrants, to put forward messages on human rights. These themes appear difficult to grasp and may not be able to stimulate young readers’ interest. An author needs to have the knowledge, the talent and the means to situate such themes within a story that will make possible young readers identify with the heroes, to love them and to really empathize with them.
Loty Petrovits-Andrutsopulou, in her book The Cild from the Sea, does not only manage to do that but goes beyond that, moving and inspiring whoever reads the story of Hasan from Afghanistan. She uses interesting and not at all simplistic language, honesty, and the art of climaxing her narration. The story appears ordinary at first, a child is lost in a big mall, but the writer goes on to talk to her readers about the pain and torture of being stripped of own country roots and to invite refugees to act by standing up for their right to a better future.
Fivo is bored of shopping. He leaves his dad for a while to look at an inflatable boat, loses him and his misfortunes begin. By the time he finds him again and returns home, he goes through a lot, the worst being when he finds himself alone in the police station. This is where he meets “the child from the sea”- a young refugee who has also lost his father- and so he learns many things he never happened to hear before. Being a refugee is not equal to being a foreigner. His great-grand father was also a refugee from Smyrna. Children have their rights wherever in the world. Asylum means that Hasan can stay in Greece and feel safe and protected. His bonds to the young refugee grow and so does their friendship which develops into brotherhood over years to come. This friendship signifies the deeper meaning of history, common roots and the common destination of humanity irrespective of culture.
The child from the Sea is a contemporary book for children without being “childish”. It successfully combines realism with sensitivity, made possible through the unique style of Loty Petrovits and her skill to deeply touch young and older alike. As soon as the story ends play begins, and this may be valuable for looking further into the educational and sociological dimensions of the story.
Natassa Karakatsani, author, critic, collaborator of the Word and Culture Laboratory, University of Thessaly
NEOS TYPOS newspaper, Volos, 31 May 2009
“Refugee – Philanthropy – Friendship – Immigration – Integration
Phoibos gets lost in a big department store and is brought to a police station. While waiting for his father to pick him up, he meets Hasan, a boy who fled to Greece by boat, thereby losing his family for good. Phoibos’s father does his best to enable the young boy to receive asylum as soon as possible and be put in a home for refugee children. A deep friendship develops between Phoibos and Hasan. The book carefully treats the difficult topic of immigration, much discussed in Greece, from the perspective of a native family who try by all means to bring about the successful integration of the refugee. The author is nominated for the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen Award for her complete oeuvre. (7+).
Internationale Jugendbibliothek, International Youth Library #White_Ravens_2010 http://www.wrfestival.de/files/whiteravens/wr10/greece.htm