Seven Million Sunflowers

Seven Million Sunflowers

By Author / Illustrator

Malcolm Duffy


Family & Home

Age range(s)







Paperback / softback




Escaping war is only half the battle as the Kovalenko family swap Ukrainian dangers for life with a British family.  15-year-old Kateryno and her family live in Kharkiv. Their lives are shattered when on February 24th 2022 the Russian army invades. Their apartment block is struck by a missile. After weeks living in their basement, Kateryno, her mother, and brother, decide to leave, joining seven million Ukrainian refugees. They come to England and meet their host family, the Hawkins. But their new beginning brings a whole new set of problems.



Malcolm Duffy's latest novel is an authentic, emotional story of a displaced Ukranian family which will resonate with anyone living or working with families fleeing conflict and oppression. It offers readers many difficult insights and is both thought provoking and moving.

Seven Million Sunflowers promotes empathy in the reader and does not shy away from the challenges of different cultures brought together by the devastating impact of war. The plot centres on the arrival of the Kovalenko family in the UK where they are hosted by the Hawkins family. Kateryno, the main character, along with her older brother, Marko, and their mother, Yulia, settle into their new life in Kingston Upon Thames whilst their father, Tato, stays in Ukraine to fight as part of the defending army.

Starting at a new school, making friends and falling in love are complicated for Kat by politics, mental health issues and the problems of living in someone else's home. The clash of different expectations creates friction for the families and despite escaping the war, Kat is expected to become the peacemaker in this new, seemingly charitable, yet imposed life.

Malcolm Duffy examines the issues of hosting and being hosted from a position of personal experience as his family opened their Surrey home to Ukrainian refugees. This book, written with their support, is dedicated to the Marchenko family. Highly recommended for secondary school age students. The publishers recommend this book for children aged 12+ years.

Triggers warnings for students who may suffer from PTSD and there are references to injuries caused by conflict.

320 pages / Reviewed by Ruth Cornish, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 11+


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