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Gr 5-8-Salva and Nya have difficult paths to walk in life. Salva's journey, based on a true story, begins in 1985 with an explosion. The boy's small village in Sudan erupts into chaos while the 11-year-old is in school, and the teacher tells the children to run away. Salva leaves his family and all that is familiar and begins to walk. Sometimes he walks alone and sometimes there are others. They are walking toward a refugee camp in Ethiopia, toward perceived safety. However, the camp provides only temporary shelter from the violent political storm. In 1991-'92, thousands are killed as they try to cross a crocodile-infested river when they are forced out of the country; Salva survives and gets 1200 boys to safety in Kenya. Nya's life in 2008 revolves around water. She spends eight hours a day walking to and from a pond. In the dry season, her family must uproot themselves and relocate to the dry lake bed where they dig in the mud until water eventually trickles out. Nya's narrative frames Salva's journey from Sudan to Ethiopia to Rochester, NY, and, eventually, back to Sudan. Both story lines are spare, offering only pertinent details. In the case of Salva, six years in a camp pass by with the barest of mentions. This minimalism streamlines the plot, providing a clarity that could have easily become mired in depressing particulars. The two narratives intersect in a quiet conclusion that is filled with hope.-Naphtali L. Faris, Saint Louis Public Library, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Newbery Medalist Park's (The Single Shard) spare, hard-hitting novel delivers a memorable portrait of two children in Sudan-one an 11-year-old Lost Boy, Salva, who fled in 1985 and later immigrated to the United States, and 11-year-old Nya, who collects water for her village in 2008. Park employs well-chosen details and a highly atmospheric setting to underscore both children's struggles to survive. Salva's journey is tragic and harrowing, as he's driven by attacking soldiers and braves hunger, shifting alliances among refugees, and the losses of a friend to a lion attack and his uncle to violent marauders. "The days became a never-ending walk," he reflects. Salva's narrative spans 23 years and highlights myriad hardships but not without hope, as he withstands the deprivations of refugee camps, leads 1,200 boys to Kenya, and eventually gains sanctuary in Rochester, N.Y., where he still lives (he also contributes an afterword). Briefer entries about Nya preface chapters about Salva, illustrating the daily realities and sacrifices of modern-day life in Sudan. The eventual connection of Salva and Nya's stories offers the promise of redemption and healing. Ages 10-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.