For Poni, life in her small village in southern Sudan is simple and complicated at the same time. But then the war comes and there is only one thing for Poni to do. Run. Run for her life. Driven by the sheer will to survive and the hope that she can somehow make it to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, Poni sets out on a long, dusty trek across the east African countryside with thousands of refugees. In Kakuma she is almost overwhelmed by the misery that surrounds her. Poni realizes that she must leave the camp at any cost. Her destination is a compound in Nairobi. There, if she is lucky, she can continue her education and even one day convince authorities that she is worthy to go to the land of opportunity called America. Even more than the dramatic events of the story, it is Poni’s frank and single-minded personality that carries this novel. In a heartbreaking final twist, she finds her mother just as she is about to leave for the U.S., and must make the hardest decision of all.
A treat for fans of ghastly gore and egregious endings. “Contains a Dangerous Beast and a Miserable End,” states a warning on the cover. But if you are strong of heart and like your humor a little on the dark side, jump right into the brilliant collaboration of the Edwardian humorist Hilaire Belloc, dead for the past 57 years, and the very much alive Mini Grey. Grey’s sly illustrations, clever type designs, amazing lift-the-flaps, and a roaring lion pop-up, not to mention her zoo map with hilarious Rules and Byelaws, make this edition of the classic cautionary tale a collectible to savor. Decidedly not a lift-the-flap for babies, it will lift the spirits of anyone with a well-developed sense of humor.