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Children's Fiction Lgbt

Ghost's Journey

A Refugee Story

by (author) Robin Stevenson

illustrated by Rainer Oktovianus

Rebel Mountain Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2019
LGBT, Emigration & Immigration, Cats
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 6 to 10
  • Grade: 1 to 5


When Indonesia becomes a dangerous place for the LGBTQ+ community, Ghost and her family are forced to leave their home and escape to freedom in Canada.Ghost's Journey: A Reugee Story is inspired by the true story of two gay refugees, Rainer and Eka, and written from the perspective of their cat Ghost, with illustrations created from Rainer's photographs. Written by award-winning author, Robin Stevenson, Ghost's Journey is a perfect fit to teach young audiences about family diversity, human rights, and social justice. Shortlisted for the 2021 Silver Birch Express Award and the 2021 Rocky Mountain Book Award.Teacher resources available on publisher website:

About the authors

Robin Stevenson is the award-winning author of more than 25 books for kids and teens, including the board book Pride Colors, the picture book Ghost’s Journey: A Refugee Story and the nonfiction books Kid Activists and Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle. The first edition of her nonfiction book Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community (2016) won a Stonewall Honor and was shortlisted for numerous other awards. Robin lives in Victoria, British Columbia, where she attends Pride celebrations with her family every year, but always leaves her dog safely at home.


Robin Stevenson's profile page

Rainer Oktovianus came to Canada two years ago with his husband, Eka. They fled Indonesia to avoid persecution and death threats to LGBT people from radical Islamic groups. The illustrations in Ghost's Journey are based on Rainer's photography of his cat.

Rainer Oktovianus' profile page


  • Short-listed, Rocky Mountain Book Awards
  • Short-listed, Silver Birch Express Award

Excerpt: Ghost's Journey: A Refugee Story (by (author) Robin Stevenson; illustrated by Rainer Oktovianus)

When friends came over,
Ghost played with everyone.

But when strangers came to the door,
Rainer and Eka turned off the lights and pretended no one was home.

Ghost wanted to help.
She fetched them toys to play with.

She snuggled close and licked their tears.
"People don't like us, Ghost," Rainer whispered, "just because Eka and I love each other."

Over and over they had to move.
Ghost did not like moving.

She hid behind the curtains,
and on top of book shelves where she felt safe

She hid beneath the bed, inside a paper bag.
Over and over, Rainer said, "Sorry Ghost. It isn't safe for us here."

Ghost knew that they couldn't keel hiding.
If her dads were in danger, she would be a guard cat.
Ghost listened for footsteps in the hallway.

Editorial Reviews

"Stevenson tells the real-life story of Eka Nasution and Rainer Oktovianus with simplicity and clarity for younger audience. Both the primary text and the author's note are written in accessible language, and centering Ghost creates appeal for young readers, who can easily identify with her family's longing to live their true lives. This introduction to LGBTQ human rights for young children is a gentle and effective one"-Kirkus Reviews


"To say that introducing young children to complex social justice issues - such as those involving LGBTQ+ refugees - is a challenge would be an understatement. But Robin Stevenson's new picture book manages to present this complicated subject in an accessible and moving way."-Quill and Quire

"The world is changing, and Canada remains, at least in comparison to the global landscape, an LGBTQ safe space, and Ghost's Journey plays a role in reinforcing this narrative for a positive purpose. If only more LGBTQ refugees had a Ghost to keep them company through the immigration process!"Highly Recommended-Canadian Review of Materials

"This book charmed me from the get-go. Told from a cat's perspective, it tackles tough subjects with a light touch. The story broke my heart, then put it back together again. I simply loved it." -Susin Nielsen, Governor General's Award-winning author of The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen and No Fixed Address

"Ghost's Journey shines a gentle light on the dangers faced by so many LGBTQ+ people in countries around the world. It's a powerful and important story, beautifully written and full of captivating images."-Susan Juby, author of Alice I Think and Republic of Dirt

"Awesome book! Most likely one of the best, if not the best, book in Canada to read to kids (and adults) to foster an understanding of LGBTQ+ lived experiences and, of course, the deep love of a faithful cat." Marilyn McPherson, librarian

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