The Possible Lives of WH, Sailor

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11 x 8
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Publication Date:
November 8, 2022
For Readers:
9 to 12
Juvenile Nonfiction:
Diversity & Multiculturalism

The Possible Lives of WH, Sailor

Written and illustrated by Bushra Junaid

I will give you the dignity and respect you deserve;
Give us a voice to be heard—
For it’s time for you
  To be laid to rest again.
  • Finalist, 2023 Next Generation Indie Book Awards (Children's Educational Picture Book, ages 6 years and up)
  • Included in the Globe and Mail Top Ten Kid's Books of the Year 2022

  • Included in the Globe and Mail's Gift Guide 2022

In this deeply moving poetic narrative, author/artist Bushra Junaid gives presence to WH, a mysterious nineteenth-century sailor whose remains were discovered in Labrador in the late 1980s. What little can be deduced about WH archaeologically is that he was of African heritage, and buried alone on the coast of a forbidding landscape.  Junaid’s poem embraces the mystery of WH, ponders his life—who he might have been, how he might have lived—and in so doing not only offers a daring look at the history of the African experience in North America, but claims as kin a man isolated, alone, and until now, forgotten. 

The book includes a timeline and background information about the Black history of the North Atlantic, as well as suggestions for further reading. 

What folks are saying

“Soft, flowing, rhyming cadence abounds in the text and it reads like a beat poem.  […] It’s historical relevance and its value as a teaching tool for both adults and children on the subject matter is unmatched in anything I have seen or read.” ~Lana Shupe, Atlantic Book Reviews [read the full review]

"I know that teachers will undoubtedly be using The Possible Lives of WH, Sailor for teaching purposes, especially for history–a list of discussion questions as part of an appended teachers' guide will be ever so useful–but this picture book should be seen as an exemplar for empathy and compassion for times and people gone and unknown." ~ Helen Kubiw, CanLit for LittleCanadians [read the full review]

"This volume is extraordinary on several fronts. [...] The narrative is told in a varied poetic style with frequent use of rhyme, and it includes invaluable end material. [...] Highly recommended." ~Val Ken Lem, CM: Canadian Review of Materials [read the full review

“One of the most delicately respectful yet robust yet intimate texts I’ve read in recent years. […] I do not see how any reader can go through this book without seeing the world in a richer, more nuanced, and more colourful way.” ~ Deborah Furchtgott, The Children’s Bookroom [read the full review]

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