When Stars Are Scattered

When Stars Are Scattered

Paperback - 2020
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"Omar and his younger brother Hassan live in a refugee camp, and when an opportunity for Omar to get an education comes along, he must decide between going to school every day or caring for his nonverbal brother in this ... portrayal of family and daily life in a refugee camp"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, [2020]
ISBN: 9780525553915
Characteristics: 256 pages : color illustrations ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Chicago Public Library recommends this title as one of the very best fiction books published for kids in 4th through 8th grades in 2020.

Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya: 11-year-old Omar Mohamed and his little brother Hassan have practically grown up at Dadaab. The brothers were born in Somalia but, when war broke out, they fled – that was seven years ago. When we meet Omar, he says that life in a refugee camp is all about waiting – wa... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Oct 31, 2020

Excellent graphic novel about life as a refugee. Read it. You will be glad you did.

Oct 15, 2020

Let me start by saying, When the Stars Are Scattered is insanely good. We meet brothers Omar and Hassan living the endless grind that is life in a refugee camp in Dadeb, a Kenyan refugee camp. Omar spends his days in chores, caring for his disabled brother, and the occasional game of soccer, while missing his mother and dreaming of returning to Ethiopia. Small events like being pushed towards attending school, his friend's refugee status interview, and meeting a social worker cause ripples that have huge impacts on Hassan and Omar's future. Everything is waiting, and hoping, and trying not to hope too much, while finding things to live for. Omar tries to prepare for a life after refugee camp while he sees how easily dreams can be whisked away. Omar is acutely aware he has more control over his future than his female friends do.

This book is full of feeling. Watching Omar build his found family with his foster mother in the camp, and both long to leave and be consumed by jealousy as other peoples' refugee cases proceed gives a just an idea of how difficult it is to be so powerless, and how empowering it can be to have something to work towards. This book reminds me a little of A Long Walk to Water, and is a must-read for kids and adults. I am so excited for students who have experience as refugees to be able to see themselves in this book!

Sep 10, 2020

An amazing true survival story of two boys who grow up in a huge refugee camp in Kenya, after their father is killed and their mother disappears in Somalia. The best graphic novel I’ve ever read - couldn’t put it down- and a probable Newbery Award contender!

FPL_LaurenH Sep 01, 2020

Omar and his brother Hassan are orphans living in a Kenyan refugee camp. They long to be relocated to the United States. When Omar begins attending school, he thinks it will finally be their turn, but leaving the camp proves harder than they though. From beginning to end, this book will tug at your heartstrings. Fans of Refugee by Alan Gratz will be captivated by this story.

Aug 25, 2020

Omar’s life in the refugee camp has been an adventure. An orphan from the civil unrest in Somalia, he is put into a refugee camp, Dadaab, with his brother, Hassan. Their story captures the life in refugee camps; the hopeful moments, the hopeless ones, the joyful ones, the tragic ones. But all you can do is wait. And hope. This powerful story is a great read, and I hope that you find it as fun to read as I did!

Aug 25, 2020

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, is a book that when you pick it up, it appears to be a graphic novel for children. It is presented in a graphic/comic format and it is a true story. So, it is not fiction. It is Omar Mohamed’s story. Omar is a Somalian refugee who ended up in Kenya at the age of four with his younger brother, Hassan. Hassan does not speak and he suffers from seizures.
The story begins when Omar is 11. The two brothers are still refugees living in a crowed Kenyan refugee camp. They believe they are likely orphans because they last saw their mother telling them to run as she tried to find her husband while facing a violent attack from armed soldiers.
This is a story that covers 15 years of Omar’s life. It is tragic, realistic, and ultimately full of hope. It opens up the topics of refugees, why people run away from their country, being without a country, limited opportunities in a “closed” refugee camp, the difference in opportunities for boys verses girls in such a camp, compassion and community within a camp, friendships, and so much more.
The text and graphics come together to tell the story well. It provides depth and humanity to the reality of children who are refugees. It would a good book for a ‘family read’ (with lots of discussion) for families with kids 10 and up. Teachers may also find it to be appropriate to assign or read to a group. It is a good book. I recommend it.

Aug 17, 2020

A great read for both kids and adults! I would suggest it to 4th graders and up. It might be confusing to younger kids simply because of the concepts in it.

PimaLib_LoisM Aug 12, 2020

This amazing graphic novel is the true story of Omar Mohamed and his developmentally disabled brother Hassan, who grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya after fleeing the war in Somalia. Even though refugee camps are supposed to be temporary locations, Omar and Hassan ended up living in the camp for 15 years before being resettled in Tucson, Arizona. This graphic novel is co-written and beautifully illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, creator of the graphic novels All's Faire in Middle School and Newbery Honor book Roller Girl.

Jul 25, 2020

This was such a good graphic novel. You really get a feel for how refugees are treated and what happens in these camps. You want the main characters to be resettled anywhere but where they are. The love that these brothers have for each other is amazing and beautiful.

LPL_MattL Jul 21, 2020

When Stars are Scattered is a graphic novel telling the story of Omar Mohamed’s childhood growing up in a refugee camp. Omar had to flee his home with his younger brother Hassan, his father was killed and his mother was missing. Through Omar’s story we learn the stark realities of a refugee's life—there’s never enough food, the daily routine is exhausting and there is virtually no access to medical care needed for Hassan.

Omar is eventually able to attend school and build a surrogate family with others in his community. Though Omar’s life is far removed from what most kids experience, there are also similarities. He struggles with school, friendships and family, but through it all Omar hopes for a better life despite his seemingly insurmountable difficulties.

Victoria Jamieson tells Omar’s story with a graphic art style that appeals to young readers and she beautifully captures the special bond between the two brothers. Make sure to read the section at the back of the book to learn about Omar’s life after the refugee camp. I highly reccommend this book to both adults and children, it is an important book that encourages understanding and empathy.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Nov 22, 2020

NicolaAO thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

Aug 25, 2020

eliram493 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at CPL

To Top