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Year of No Rain Hardcover – May 8, 2003


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 580L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); First Edition edition (May 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374372888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374372880
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 6.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,111,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-7-In 1999, Stephen, 11, lives with his mother and older sister in a poor, drought-stricken village in the southern Sudan. His father went off to fight with the rebels when the boy was an infant, and the family remains fearful of assaults by northern government soldiers. When the village is attacked (by the southern rebels, as it turns out), the boy and two friends are sent to hide in the forest. Upon returning home, they find that their village has been destroyed, Stephen's mother has been killed, and his sister is missing, possibly taken as a slave. The boys try to make their way to a refugee camp, where Stephen believes he will be able to go to school and achieve his dream of becoming a teacher; but after a harrowing journey across dangerous, inhospitable territory, they return to their village. While Mead gives voice to a vulnerable, often forgotten group of people, the novel does not bring the tragedy of the southern Sudan to the consciousness of readers in a way that will keep their interest. Neither the characters nor the places are brought fully to life, and the dialogue has a flatness that prevents readers from experiencing the impact of the horrific events. Beverley Naidoo's The Other Side of Truth (HarperCollins, 2001) portrays vulnerable refugee children far more successfully, and Joseph Bruchac's The Winter People (Dial, 2002) allows readers to empathize with a Native American boy whose village is destroyed. Purchase only where there is a need in this subject area.
Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-7. Like Mead's Girl of Kosovo (2001), this novel tells the story of a contemporary child caught up in a brutal civil war in a far off country. In this book, the place is drought-stricken southern Sudan; the time is 1999. Stephen Majok, 11, is on the run with a group of boys after soldiers raid their village and slaughter nearly everyone, including his mother. The research is accurate, and Mead includes a historical note and a map. But the narrative doesn't have the immediacy of the Kosovo story, which was based on the experience of an Albanian family. There's little sense of Stephen's culture or personality. He talks like an American kid ("Come off it"), and at times the fiction reads like a distant news report. Still, there's very little for middle-schoolers about this horrific conflict and the traumatic effects it had on children, and without sensationalism, Mead conveys the particulars of the place and the desperate longing of a displaced child for home, education, and peace. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

I had an unusually healthy childhood-sailing across the ocean on a steamship at age 7, visiting England,Scotland, and Norway, and playing endlessly with my dollhouse, which perhaps eventually lead to writing many books for children. Because I live in a refugee resettlement city Portland, ME, I wrote about displaced kids from war areas, Sudan, Kurdistan, and Kosovo. I was also an art teacher. The book, Soldier Mom, now 20 years old, was written during the first Gulf War, when we suddenly used a "reserve" army instead of an enlisted one. I had two active sons, dogs, rabbit, chameleon, hamster and later assisted 40 Kosova high school students. I loved gardening, painting, reading. But suddenly began to hurt everywhere, falling, weak. Nothing helped.I had to leave my job as an art teacher but was still able to write.
Nearly twenty years (plus a bout with severe cancer) into feeling weak, I now know I have Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular disease that affects your eyes, breathing, endurance and speech.
I still write, paint, sing, practice my standup comedy, and take photographs. Really nothing inside me has changed at all. I fight to improve, laugh over the silliness of ordinary life, and am curious about all sorts of things.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark on June 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Alice Mead's novel Year of No Rain is excellent. It is well written, with just the right amount of suspense to drive the story along, and its didactic elements are rarely obtrusive. Yet teach it does--about the realities of life in Southern Sudan, about the Sudanese civil war, and (to a lesser extent) about the inherent senselessness of war. It successfully avoids the oversimplified understandings of the Sudanese civil war that are all too common in America. And even if the Sudanese civil war may now be drawing to an end (or may not be--there have been false hopes for its end before), the novel remains valuable for its portrayal of a war that is in many ways little different from many of Africa's other civil wars.
Stephen, a young Dinka, lives in a village with his mother and his elder sister, Naomi. His father has vanished, gone off to the war. Stephen's concerns are those of any older child in such a village: his family, the cows he tends and on which the village depends, and his sister's impending marriage.
As Mead's examination of daily life in Stephen's village continues through the first quarter of her novel, the echoes of the distant war build, until suddenly the village is raided by soldiers looking for food. Stephen and two other boys escape to the forest; his sister Naomi hides. The next day, Stephen and the other boys return to find the village destroyed, Stephen's mother dead, and Naomi vanished.
The remainder of the book tells the story of the boys' wanderings through forest, grassland, and swamp, at first heading for a refugee camp over the Ethiopian border, then returning home. Just enough happens to keep the plot going nicely without the book ever becoming tedious or monotonous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark on June 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Alice Mead's novel Year of No Rain is excellent. It is well written, with just the right amount of suspense to drive the story along, and its didactic elements are rarely obtrusive. Yet teach it does--about the realities of life in Southern Sudan, about the Sudanese civil war, and (to a lesser extent) about the inherent senselessness of war. It successfully avoids the oversimplified understandings of the Sudanese civil war that are all too common in America. And even if the Sudanese civil war may now be drawing to an end (or may not be--there have been false hopes for its end before), the novel remains valuable for its portrayal of a war that is in many ways little different from many of Africa's other civil wars.
Stephen, a young Dinka, lives in a village with his mother and his elder sister, Naomi. His father has vanished, gone off to the war. Stephen's concerns are those of any older child in such a village: his family, the cows he tends and on which the village depends, and his sister's impending marriage.
As Mead's examination of daily life in Stephen's village continues through the first quarter of her novel, the echoes of the distant war build, until suddenly the village is raided by soldiers looking for food. Stephen and two other boys escape to the forest; his sister Naomi hides. The next day, Stephen and the other boys return to find the village destroyed, Stephen's mother dead, and Naomi vanished.
The remainder of the book tells the story of the boys' wanderings through forest, grassland, and swamp, at first heading for a refugee camp over the Ethiopian border, then returning home. Just enough happens to keep the plot going nicely without the book ever becoming tedious or monotonous.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This is a children's book about the war in Sudan. Three young boys are trying to escape the attack by their village by Jangaweed, the Sudanese soldiers who terrorize the South Sudanese villages on horseback. They have to escape to another country but refugee camps are full and they have to choose correctly which way to run. A nice book to help children who have Sudanese student in their classrooms understand why they come here better. Also, the Sudanese students have books which they can identify with and stories that touch their lives. A good addition to any school library collection.
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