In the dry spring of 1999, eleven-year-old Stephen Majok watches as his friend Wol joins a circle of dancers. Wol is celebrating – only fourteen, he is engaged to Stephen’s sister. Wol wants to marry because he might join the guerrillas in southern Sudan and fight the northern government soldiers. He wants a wife to remember him. Stephen thinks Wol is crazy. Children should study. But because of the civil war, there has been no school in their village for over a year. All Stephen has left from his student days is his books and one precious pencil, and the hunger for knowledge. Then, suddenly – but not unexpectedly – exploding bombs are heard in the tiny village. Stephen’s mother tells him to hurry, pack his bag, and hide beyond the forest with Wol and their friend Deng. Stephen grabs his geography book, his pencil, and little else. He does not want to leave his mother and sister. He does not want to leave the life he loves. In her latest portrayal of “children caught in the cultural crossfire” (School Library Journal), Alice Mead emphasizes the attachment all humans have to the small place on earth we call home, and our resistance to being displaced, even when our very lives are threatened.
144 pages 978-0374372880 (Hardcover) Ages 10-13
Read alikes for displaced peoples: Beverley Naidoo's The Other Side of Truth (vulnerable refugee children) and Joseph Bruchac's The Winter People (a Native American boy whose village is destroyed.) --from Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
************ In the spring of 1999, hunger and thirst are constant companions to 11-year-old Stephen and his family and friends in their southern Sudan village. Stephen wants to go back to his books, but the village school is closed due to civil war between the northern soldiers and the southern rebels. When bombs explode in their small village, Stephen’s mother tells him and his friends to quickly pack, and they run and hide before they’re caught by the enemy soldiers. Stephen leaves with a few precious possessions, wondering if each step will bring him closer to water, food, and freedom—and maybe home again someday.
“Mead puts civil war in human terms through the eyes of one young boy. In the context of an artfully told story, much is told about how war works. . . . The history, the land, and the determination of a band of refugees to care for each other are vividly evoked in this important work.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred
“Mead conveys the particulars of the place and the desperate longing of a displaced child for home, education, and peace.”—Booklist
144 pages 978-