PPBF: Ziba Came On A Boat

Today I'm excited because TBA (Teaching Blog Addict) is turning two! Click {here} to go to Jennifer's blog to find links to many, many freebies to celebrate that cool collaborative!

I'm also jazzed because I'm guest posting over at the Character Educator, so head there next to read 
But wait, there's more. It's Friday and you know what that means?
 Another PPBF!

Title: Ziba Came on a Boat
Author: Liz Lofthouse
Illustrator: Robert Ingpen
Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Publishers
Date:  2007
Suitable for ages: 6 and up
Fiction (based on real-life events)
Themes:  empathy, safety, refugees, homelessness, compassion
Brief Synopsis: As Young Ziba travels to safety from her war-torn homeland in search of freedom, she travels back in time and remembers the life she's leaving behind.

Opening Page:  Ziba came on a boat. A soggy old fishing boat that creaked and moaned as it rose and fell, rose and fell, across an endless sea . . .


Loads of activity ideas, including a book cover puzzle {here}
View the book's Quizlet page {here}
Enjoy a reading of the book on You Tube {here}

Why I like this book:  This book is so emotional, in part because it's based on real-life events and that evokes incredible empathy in me for these refugees. What must it be like to flee your homeland in search of something better? Something safer? Something freer? It also tore at my heartstrings because the language is so eloquent and conjures up such engagingly vivid images that you can just feel Ziba's experience!

Use Ziba's story to talk about empathy and help your students put themselves in Ziba's place. Maybe there can make a few connections with this young girl as her memories take her back to life as it was. Maybe they can imagine, if only for a moment, being on that boat, not for pleasure but out of necessity. This would be a good time for a double bubble graphic organizer to help students compare and contrast. What are the commonalities? And what are the differences between their lives and hers?

This would also make for an amazing wants v. needs discussion. Ask students what they'd take along if they were leaving for a new land with just a suitcase. Let them separate these items into wants and needs so that they can clearly see to prioritize. Encourage them to defend the items on their list. 

As a follow-up, students could write the sequel as a first-person narrative or letter from Ziba to someone detailing her new life: Where is she now? What is her new life there like? What has changed? What are her challenges? What does she like better? If she could go back, would she? If she had it to do all over again, would she? Why or why not?


  1. This sounds like a great picture book for older readers. I always wonder how they find their audience for these kinds of books since older kids don't want to be in the picture book shelves.

    1. Well, I guess it's word count that makes it suitable for six year olds, then from there I guess they figure kids "and up" will somehow find it. But you're right, Wendy, it would be perfect for those older readers as well because you could do some geography and find out where exactly Afghanistan is and talk more candidly about why she has to flee. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Wow - what a cover!

  3. My kind of book. Love it...love it!! It's so hard to find PB on tough subjects. I loved your including the video so I could really hear the book in its entirety. Beautifully written. Great for a classroom discussion.

    1. Pat, I have the feeling that you and I could visit for DAYS about our favorite titles! I just KNEW you were going to love this one and I'm SO glad that you came by!

  4. Beautiful language and haunting story... love picture books that can touch me powerfully like this.

    1. Yes, Joanna, that's the PERFECT word ... haunting ... I'm glad I found a link so you could hear the whole story and not just my teaser. I am so thankful that you stopped in this afternoon!

  5. Of course I have to leave here quickly--Amazon one click is calling my name! Sounds like a book that would really get kids talking--for the right reasons. Thanks for sharing so many wonderful resources with your readers...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  6. Wow! Another strong girl book! I love it! That cover just sucks you right in. And the rhythm in that opening line makes me kind of seasick. I think I need to check out this book! thanks for sharing!

  7. The lives that some people lead. Makes my problems pretty insignificant. Looks like a great conversation/research provocation for older students.

  8. Great resources, Barbara! Thanks for sharing this book.

  9. Wonderful book, Barbara...both for kids AND for adults. :) I know life is difficult for all of us sometimes...but reading stories like this one truly put me in my place. :) I think it's important to enable kids to learn about how others struggle to have the freedom that many of us take for granted. Thanks so much for sharing this one!


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!