African Refugee Draws Upon Experience Growing up in Maine in Children’s Book

Terry Farish, of Kittery, wrote the book with OD Bonny, who provided the inspiration for “A Feast for Joseph.” It tells the story of a young African refugee who adapts to a new life in Portland, Maine’s largest city.

Despite finding a better life, Joseph still longs for the family and friends — and food — he left behind at a refugee camp. Joseph makes a friend and they cook an African feast that brings together the community.

“He still has good friends there, so he’s missing all the people, how they used to cook and the music, and that’s what he’s homesick for,” Farish told WMTW-TV.

The new book is aimed at elementary school-aged children. It was published in September by Toronto-based Groundwood Books.

It was illustrated by Canadian Ken Daley, himself the son of immigrants, who said the story about being homesick and the connection to culture and food resonated with him, as well. “My parents emigrated from Dominica to Canada, so yes I drew on my family experience to help illustrate the story,” he told The Associated Press.

Maine is the nation’s whitest state, but it’s home to a growing population of immigrants and refugees from Africa.

– Ella Breedlove