Dear World

When seven-year-old Bana Alabed took to Twitter to describe the horrors she and her family were experiencing in war-torn Syria, her heartrending messages touched the world and gave a voice to millions of innocent children. Bana’s happy childhood was abruptly upended by civil war when she was only three years old. Over the next four years, she knew nothing but bombing, destruction, and fear. Her harrowing ordeal culminated in a brutal siege where she, her parents, and two younger brothers were trapped in Aleppo, with little access to food, water, medicine, or other necessities. Facing death as bombs relentlessly fell around them—one of which completely destroyed their home—Bana and her family embarked on a perilous escape to Turkey. In Bana’s own words, and featuring short, affecting chapters by her mother, Fatemah, Dear World is not just a gripping account of a family endangered by war; it offers a uniquely intimate, child’s perspective on one of the biggest humanitarian crises in history. Bana has lost her best friend, her school, her home, and her homeland. But she has not lost her hope—for herself and for other children around the world who are victims and refugees of war and deserve better lives. Dear World is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit, the unconquerable courage of a child, and the abiding power of hope. It is a story that will leave you changed.

Amina

Amina lives on the edges of Mogadishu. Her family’s house has been damaged in Somalia’s long civil war, but they continue to live there, reluctant to leave their home. Amina’s world is shattered when government forces come to arrest her father because his art has been officially censored, deemed too political. Then rebel forces kidnap Amina’s brother, forcing him to become a soldier in Somalia’s brutal ongoing war. Although her mother and grandmother are still with her, Amina feels vulnerable and abandoned. Secretly, she begins to create her own artwork in the streets and the derelict buildings to give herself a sense of hope and to let out the burden of her heart.

Kamakwie: Finding Peace, Love, and Injustice in Sierra Leone

Kathleen Martin spent several weeks in the tiny village of Kamakwie in the interior of Sierra Leone, where she worked with a Canadian medical team. Staying in the grounds of the community hospital, Kathleen had the opportunity to meet with the people of the village. The experience was a revelation. Her mission was to talk to people about their lives, aspirations and their memories of the civil war. She also had a camera though which she developed a visual chronicle. Above all, she was struck by the children. Their resilience, their hopes, their enjoyment of the moments when they could gather and sing and play soccer.
Initially, the writer is an observer, but it is not long before the observer is passionately involved.
In this vivid and moving account of her time in Kamakwie, Kathleen Martin provides a window into a world far from the comfortable lives of most Americans – a world that through this book will become a colorful, sometimes horrifying, sometimes beautiful reality.

Mali under the Night Sky: A Lao Story of Home

Mali Under the Night Sky is the true story of Laotian American artist Malichansouk Kouanchao, whose family was forced by civil war to flee Laos when she was five. Before the war began, Mali lived an idyllic life in a community where she felt safe and was much loved. But the coming war caused her family to flee to another country and a life that was less than ideal.

Lost Boy, Lost Girl

One of thousands of children who fled strife in southern Sudan, John Bul Dau survived hunger, exhaustion, and violence. His wife, Martha, endured similar hardships. In this memorable book, the two convey the best of African values while relating searing accounts of famine and war. There’s warmth as well, in their humorous tales of adapting to American life. For its importance as a primary source, for its inclusion of the rarely told female perspective of Sudan’s lost children, for its celebration of human resilience, this is the perfect story to inform and inspire young readers.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 5, Issue 2

A Long Walk To Water

Combining simple, economical prose with a profound awareness of the hardships that life sometimes brings to young people, Linda Sue Park has crafted a suspenseful, accessible novel that goes beyond newspaper headlines to illuminate human experience. Includes an afterword from the author and one from Salva Dut. A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 4, Issue 2