"This picture book is about a Somali refugee girl's first day in an American elementary school and her desire to make friends. The only word she knows is "hi," and her new environment is a jumble of unfamiliar sights and sounds. But the other kids start to accept her right away, offering her a fistful of crayons, sharing their lunch and kicking the soccer ball to her in gym. Great book for helping children develop empathy. The illustrations are lovely, and the book's larger format (8-inches-by-10-inches) allows them plenty of room on the page.
Delmar resident O'Brien Carelli developed the Welcome to Our Schools program for the state Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance that is now used across the state. While making videos for that program, O'Brien Carelli interviewed numerous refugee children, and the theme for a book began to emerge. "No matter where they came from or what they had been through before, they all talked about wanting to make friends," she said." Times Union, August 4, 2013
"In this gentle book, the author has captured the voice of a child for whom this new environment is exciting,
confusing and scary. As Amina struggles to make sense of this strange world and identify which people are friends, the reader senses the danger she has escaped. It is a very moving and hopeful book."
Reviews About Amina's New Friends
"What does a Somali child think about before attending an American school, especially if she doesn't know English and must take a bus the first day? Author Anne Carelli, who developed the Welcome to Our Schools program for the New York State Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance, interviewed many refugees before writing this book. She tells the story from Amina's point of view, her worry that the bus picking her up might not even take her to school, and whether she will be able to make friends. We see Amina participating in activities new to her--playing soccer, looking through books of animals with classmates, receiving a coloring book and crayons, and, during a visit to the library, bursting forth with her first English word, "Hi!" She is indeed making friends and finding her way. Immigrant children will be reassured by this story, with its warm, brightly colored illustrations by Roberta Collier-Morales, and American children will empathize with and be inspired to reach out to those finding their way in a new community."