Illegal is the story of two brothers’ journey from Africa to Europe. Along the way Ebo, the main character, charms his way by singing, finds a bit of luck, and cheerfully works at whatever job he can find. Ebo is an intelligent and gutsy hero, who, perhaps because of his age, naively manages to think positively and to find solutions when faced with both mundane and life-threatening problems that seem never-ending. Ebo and his brother save one another time and again, but both are repeatedly treated horribly and discarded by people who have far more resources than they do.
This book would be great for upper elementary through high school libraries and classrooms, as it presents a well-thought out and emotionally involving introduction for kids to the refugee crisis in Europe. The illustrations draw the reader in, and effectively show the living conditions and peril the brothers encounter in an appropriate and engaging way. I enthusiastically recommend this for grades 4 and up.