Friday, January 7, 2011
Looking for Newbery Day 12: A Long Walk to Water
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is a book that makes an impression from the start. Based on the life of, Salva, one of the Sudan's "Lost Boys" from the late 1980s, the story moves back and forth between his search for his family and a safe place to live and the life of Nya, a girl currently living in Africa.
Salva's story is one of bravery as he walks from his home land that is ravaged by war to a refugee camp. He and his fellow travelers are challenged along the way by wild animals, thirst, hunger, enemy tribes and just the shear distance they have to cover on foot. Upon arriving in one refugee camp, they are forced to leave, many of them drowning when they are forced to cross a swollen river in order to escape. Salva finally arrives in a camp where his learning is encouraged by and English speaking man and Salva is finally airlifted to the United States where he is taken in by a family in New York.
Nya's story is one of a young girl living in Africa where she must walk to retrieve water from a stagnant pond. During the dry season many of her fellow villagers fall sick to the water born diseases found in the water. Despite efforts to educate the people about the dangers of drinking unsanitary water, they really have little choice.
Both stories are told at the same time switching back and forth seamlessly and leading the reader to an inspiring conclusion that is one of the most satisfying I've read this year. Told in only 128 pages most kids can read this one in a matter of hours making it a great example of how much can be said with just the right words.
This is one of my favorites, and should be shared with all middle grade students for the inspirational, motivating message it presents.
The Happy Nappy Bookseller