I had planned on something completely different for today. My three picture books about math related topics will have to wait for another Wednesday, because I just finished the most beautiful, heart-wrenching, hopeful story about two children in South Sudan.
A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park is about Salva, a young boy, 11 years old, and his escape into the bush when soldiers attack his village during the civil war in the 1980s. From the bush, he makes it to Ethiopia, then to Kenya, and *SPOILER* eventually to the United States.
This civil war was about northern Sudanese forcing the southern Sudanese to become Muslim. Sound familiar? Millions of people were displaced and/or killed during this war.
But that is only half of the story. Every other chapter is about Nya, the young girl in a village in southern Sudan in the year 2008. Every day for seven months of the year, Nya spends her entire day making two long and dangerous trips to the pond to collect water and bring it to her family's home.
The other five months of the year, her family camps close to a larger water source. At the camp, Nya and her family spend much of the day digging for water. It is very dangerous to camp near this "lake" because Nya's father and brothers are at risk of running into enemy tribesman.
The stories seem completely separate, different characters, different time periods, even different tribes.
Best. Ending. Ever.
And the it's all based on a true story!
A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park is in the running for the 2015 Caudill Award. I truly hope this book wins. In my mind, it already has.
Bear in mind that there in addition to horrific warfare and murder, including the slaughter of children, a lion eats a boy (not graphic, but present) in this book. If I have to assign an age-group, I'm going with 5th grade and up, but as an adult, I found reading A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story a completely worthwhile experience.