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Children's Nonfiction Emigration & Immigration


The Journeys of Three Young Refugees

by (author) Paul Tom

illustrated by Mélanie Baillairgé

translated by Arielle Aaronson

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
May 2023
Emigration & Immigration, General, Civil & Human Rights
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7


Finalist, Governor General's Literary Award, Translation

Each year, more than 400 minors arrive alone in Canada requesting refugee status. They arrive without their parents, accompanied by no adult at all.

Alone relates the journey of three of them: Afshin, Alain and Patricia. Their story opens a window onto the many heartbreaks, difficult sacrifices and countless hardships that punctuate their obstacle-filled path. But Alone most especially tells of the courage and resilience that these young people demonstrated before being able to finally obtain a life where threats and danger are no longer a part of their everyday existence.


Key Text Features:

author's note



character drawings





further information




writing inspiration


Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:


Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (e.g., through examples or anecdotes).


Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

About the authors

PAUL TOM was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, the son of Cambodian parents. He currently lives in Montreal where he uses his talent and sensitivity for projects that give a voice to those people we don’t hear enough about. Whether working as a film editor, director or author, he tells stories in such a way as to shed light on the intimate, precious and fragile aspects of human beings. Alone is his first book.

Paul Tom's profile page

MÉLANIE BAILLAIRGÉ lives and works in Montreal. A multi-talented artistic and creative director, she likes to create images using bold colours and dramatic lines. Her illustrations, which have great evocative power, go straight to the heart.

Mélanie Baillairgé's profile page

ARIELLE AARONSON left her native New Jersey in 2007 to pursue a diploma in Translation Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. She holds an M.A. in Second Language Education from McGill University and has spent the past few years teaching English in the Montreal public school system and creating educational material for second language learners. She previously translated Marie-Renée Lavoie’s Autopsy of a Boring Wife and A Boring Wife Settles the Score for Arachnide.


Arielle Aaronson's profile page


  • Winner, Ontario Library Association Best Bets
  • Short-listed, Governor General's Literary Award, Translation
  • Commended, NPR Books We Love
  • Commended, Kirkus Best Middle Grade Books of the Year

Editorial Reviews

Quietly awe-inspiring.


An exceptional introduction to understanding the plight of young refugees.

Globe and Mail

Blunt, heartbreaking, and hopeful. … On a muted canvas peppered with stark reds and greens, illustrator Mélanie Baillairgé storyboards the bitterness of separation and the bittersweet relief of arrivals. In Alone, these tender and real stories find shelter.

Montreal Review of Books

An excellent introduction for anyone who wishes to understand and empathize with refugees and read first-hand accounts of such incredible young people.

CM: Canadian Review of Materials

[Alone] will serve to humanize the situation of seeking safe haven.


Clearly told and accompanied with a wealth of illustrations … A valuable book.

Winnipeg Free Press

A stylized, minimalist approach hones three complex story lines down to a sharply rendered tale.

Publishers Weekly

Alone doesn’t shy away from heartbreak and injustice, but the characters are so charming that the stories remain cheerful and uplifting even when relating so much hardship. Most importantly, the book is a reminder of the importance of welcoming refugees.

Canadian Children’s Book News

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