Monday, October 17, 2011
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: A Long Walk to Water
This book is a Cybils nominee, nominated by Amy at Hope is the Word. (All opinions are my own and are not meant to reflect the opinions of the entire judging panel.)
As it says on the front cover, this short novel is based on a true story. It is the amazing, inspiring tale of one of the "Lost Boys" of the Sudan, Salva Dut, who escaped warfare, trekked through deserts, and survived the chaos of refugee camps to eventually come to America and become the founder of the non-profit, Water for Sudan.
The novel intersperses chapters from the perspective of a young girl called Nya, who lives in South Sudan in 2008, and Salva who flees an attack on his school in 1985.
Nya's story: In order to find clean water, Nya has to walk miles twice a day. In her village, there is no school and children often sicken and die from muddy, disease-bearing water. Eventually, a man from a different tribe comes to her village and brings men and equipment to dig a well. Now, the villagers can also build a school.
That man is Salva Dut. The chapters about his struggles to survive as an 11-year-old in wartorn Southern Sudan are both horrendous and breathtakingly beautiful. Horrendous because of all the losses of life Salva encounters, but uplifting because of his indomitable spirit of survival.
Linda Sue Park writes the story in a spare, almost matter-of-fact way (although she is great at cliffhangers at the end of chapters.) I can see this as a book that could be read in classrooms to open American children's eyes to what is going on in the wider world. Of course, it would also be wonderful to read as a family as a springboard to discuss how to help others.
At several moments during the reading of A Long Walk to Water, I had tears in my eyes.
Thanks for stopping by. You can read other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday reviews on the blogs on my sidebar. (And HUGE congratulations to Shannon Messenger who started all this Middle Grade Monday Mirth and Mayhem for her BOOK DEAL!!!!!!)