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The Day of the Pelican Hardcover – October 19, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Realistic fiction for tweens
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—On the day 11-year-old Meli draws a picture of a pelican that bears a striking resemblance to her teacher—and gets caught—spring is just around the corner in Kosovo. But along with the change in season in 1998 come life-altering changes for Albanian Kosovars, the ethnic group to which Meli's family belongs. Because she is forced to stay after class, her 13-year-old brother, Mehmet, heads home alone and is taken by the Serbian police, beaten, and dumped in a field to die. When he returns home after being nursed to health by the Kosovo Liberation Army, his family must flee. Surviving extreme hardship and violence, they arrive in a refugee camp, and at long last immigrate to the United States. All is well until the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when their family is mistreated for being Muslim, albeit nonpracticing. Kindness and forgiveness on both sides bring about healing and the realization that the Lleshis have truly found a home. The themes of family loyalty and living peaceably with others along with the exploration of ethnic prejudice are handled so as to make for meaningful discussion in a classroom or book group, and the span of the main characters' ages through their teen years makes the book an appropriate choice for a wide range of readers. The setting, complete with television and other fixtures of contemporary life, demonstrates that this sort of tragedy belongs to our own time and not just the distant past. While attempts to explain the political situation at times break the flow of the narrative, this little-known piece of history has been brought to life with sensitivity and grace.—Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL END

Review

“[A] powerful, finely crafted novel.”—Publishers Weekly

“Paterson exposes the complexities of a war halfway around the globe and how its scars reach across an ocean. Young readers who did not know where Kosovo was before will not forget it after reading the Lleshis's remarkable story.”—Shelf Awareness

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 770L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Sunshine State Young Readers Awards 2011-2012 Grades 6-8
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books; 1 edition (October 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547181884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547181882
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,750,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. K. Messner on October 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Katherine Paterson's THE DAY OF THE PELICAN lends a human face to the 1998-1999 unrest in the former Yugoslavia. Meli and her family are Albanians persecuted by the Serbs under the reign of Milosevic and forced to flee for their lives, leaving everything they've known except for one another. Their journey is a perilous one with twists, turns, and hardships that will have young readers holding their breath. Even when the family seems to be starting a new life in a safer place, new challenges arise, and Meli and her brother are forced to draw on their courage and strength to make a new home. As I read this book, I couldn't help being reminded of Karen Hesse's brilliant LETTERS FROM RIFKA - historical fiction about another young girl facing persecution in another time and place. The two books would work well paired together in a classroom, as a study of immigration and the factors that bring families from other lands to America. (ARC)
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Day of the Pelican is the story of a girl and her family and their struggle to survive the turbulent conflict between the Serbs and Kosovars. Full of historical detail and accuracy, the book provides a rare glimpse into an untold part of our history. As familiar as children are with the atrocities of the Holocaust, they are unfamiliar with those of the Serbian conflict. Therefore, it is a welcome addition to the historical fiction genre.

The story is simple to follow, but I did not find the characters to be well-developed. Perhaps this was intentional on Patterson's part as, without the depth of characters, the devestating events of the growing conflict resonate clearly.

A welcome book and one which should find its place in the classroom!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
After I ordered this book, I noticed it was listed as being in juvenile fiction so I figured I wouldn't be reading it. Mostly due to the great reviews, I decided to give it a try and I was immediately hooked. This is a book for all ages and it is based on a true story.

This is the story of an family on the run from Serbs in Kosovo who were in close pursuit. The family first had to leave their home and family store, then their family farmhouse that they were taking refuge in was burned to the ground. But they were miraculously able to flee together on foot and eventually make it to Macedonia and then emigrate to America. The book is written through the eyes of the family's 13 year old daughter, Melia. Her family had to overcome so much- living in a war zone, then fleeing for their lives from the approaching Serbs and finally making it to a refugee camp in Macedonia. All along the way, through the character of Melia I learned what it must be liked to be hunted for your ethnic background, being driven from your home and country, living in a refugee camp and then making the long journey to a place both hopeful and scary for a new beginning- in this case Vermont.

Although this is a book based on the horrific ethnic cleansing by the Serbs, the author writes about one family that makes it out of Kosovo alive. However, it is well understood that a great many did not make it out. The writing in this book is superb- easy to read and gripping. II took me an evening to read it. Not only was it a good read, but I learned a lot about the conflict and atrocities that took place under Slobodan Milosevic who in later years would be tried and convicted as a war criminal.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Reading this, I was torn between thoughts like, "children shouldn't have to be exposed to stuff like this" and "omg, children actually had to live this reality." Depicting the horrors of war and an "ethnic cleansing," it felt like reading about the Holocaust. Arson, murder, hatred, at least one veiled reference to rape, theft, prejudice, denial of the dignity of human life...it's all in here.

Ultimately, I think the book is a valuable read for ages 10 and up, not in spite of the horrors in its pages but because of them. Some small children play at war in the beginning pages of the book, but later the games have turned gentler, and tag and ball games rule the day. Similarly, this book is a great starting point for discussion or thought about military intervention (the Kosovar teen idolizes Bill Clinton because of the bombs he dropped on Serbian targets...never mind that some landed accidentally on Kosovars), US immigration of refugees, and retaliation vs. forgiveness.

In spite of the dark subject matter, the book ends on an upbeat note, and Baba, their solid "rock" of a father, maintains the importance of avoiding hatred, retaliation, and prejudice. Although the main character, Meli, fights against the hatred that keeps seeping into her heart through all of these experiences, I was left with the feeling that she would prevail and that she would move on to a new life here in the US. As an aside, I was also left with a feeling of pride that my country intervened to help the Kosovars, and accepts refugees and helps them start anew.

But even if your reaction differs from mine in these political issues, isn't it awesome that a children's book gives kids access to all these issues and can help them develop their own thoughts on these matters? Definitely recommended.
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