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A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story Paperback – October 4, 2011
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—Differentiated, African-inspired chapter introduction music assists in delivering this parallel story of two very different, but equally difficult, lives in Sudan. The story alternates between Nya, a composite character based on the lives of real girls, in 2008, and Salva, a young boy in the war-torn Sudan of 1985. Nya's life consists of the grueling and monotonous task of hauling water. All day, every day, her task is finding, acquiring, and transporting brown, dirty water to meet her family's needs. Salva's story unfolds in the midst of a horrific civil war. Separated from everything and everyone he knows, he spends more than 15 years walking across Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya, living in refugee camps, and struggling to survive. His is a true story based on the experiences of one of the "lost boys of Sudan." An echo effect is used to highlight the nagging questions that are always in the forefront of Salva's mind, "When will I see my family again?" and "What will become of me?" Readers David Baker and Cynthia Bishop worked with a dialect coach to ensure authenticity in pronunciation and accents. An update on Salva's ongoing project follows the story. Listeners will not ever leave the tap water running without thinking of this powerful story.—Lisa Taylor, Ocean County Library, NJ --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
*Starred Review* After 11-year-old Salva’s school in Sudan is attacked by brutal rebel soldiers in 1985, he describes several terrifying years on the run in visceral detail: “The rain, the mad current, the bullets, the crocodiles, the welter of arms and legs, the screams, the blood.” Finally, he makes it to refugee camps in Ethiopia and then Kenya, where he is one of 3,000 young men chosen to go to America. After he is adopted by a family in Rochester, New York, he is reunited with the Sudanese family that he left behind. There have been several books about the lost boys of Sudan for adults, teens, and even for elementary-school readers. But Newbery Award–winning Park’s spare, immediate account, based on a true story, adds a stirring contemporary dimension. In chapters that alternate with Salva’s story, Nya, a young Sudanese girl in 2008, talks about daily life, in which she walks eight hours to fetch water for her family. Then, a miracle happens: Salva returns home to help his people and builds a well, making fresh water available for the community and freeing Nya to go to school. The switching viewpoints may initially disorient some, but young readers will be stunned by the triumphant climax of the former refugee who makes a difference with the necessities that we all take for granted. Teachers may want to point out the allusion to Nelson Mandela’s A Long Walk to Freedom (1995) echoed in this moving book’s title. Grades 6-9. --Hazel Rochman --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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