Category Archives: Survival

A Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water

Part of this story is about a boy named Salva. He lives in Sudan, a country in Africa, during a Civil War that happened there in 1985. The other part of this story is about a girl namy Nya and takes place in Sudan right now.

When we say “The Civil War” here in America we are referring to our own Civil War that happened 150 years ago. The Civil War in Sudan was only 25 years ago. During the War in Sudan many people were killed, children were made orphans and families were separated. In order to get to safety many people WALKED to Ethiopia or Kenya.

When you are reading Salva’s part of the story you hear about how he slept on the ground at night and could hear lions hunting around him:

Marial was gone – vanished into the night. He would never have wandered away from the group on his own. His disappearance could mean only one thing. Lion. (page 40)

Salva even has to cross a river infested with crocodiles. Some of the people do not make it across the river. On the other side of the river is a desert…which the people also have to walk across. Can you even imagine surving a journey like that? I can’t.

Nya’s part of the story is about how she walks twice a day, EVERY DAY to a pond to get water. Nya carries the water in a plastic jug and balances it on her head to walk home. That’s what she does every single day; once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The pond is so far away from her home that she has no time to do anything else. No school. No playing. Just walking – carrying water to keep her family alive.

A Long Walk to Water shows you how Salva’s story and Nya’s story are related even though they take place 25 years apart.

There are parts of the book that are hard to read and very, very sad. Some parts are scary. In the end, though, this is a book about really good things. It is about people looking after each other – even if they are stangers to begin with. It is about trying hard and doing your part and it is about hoping for something better.

The really great thing is that A Long Walk to Water is based on a real boy named Salva – you can see his picture with the author on the book jacket or in the video below. (He’s grown up now.) At the end of the book there is a letter to you from Salva that I think you’ll like to read. The best thing he says is, “Stay calm when things are hard or not going right with you. You will get thorugh it when you persevere instead of quitting.” (page 117) Those are pretty powerful words when you realize they come from a kid who survived a situation much, much more difficult than anything we will probably ever face.

  • Amazon Look Inside A Long Walk to Waterwater-for-sudan-logo
  • Linda Sue Park’s Official Website
  • Linda Sue Park’s Blog
  • Watch the PBS Need to Know Episode “The Lost Boy of Sudan” – it’s about Salva himself.
  • Watch a Video of Salva talking to small children about his project.
  • Water for Sudan – Salva’s own organization that drills wells to provide water to people Southern Sudan.

Here are some more books about people like Salva who decide to DO something:
Wengari's Trees of Peace Three Cups of Tea Do Something Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together
Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand A Gift from Childhood Making Change The Doggy Dung Disaster
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Escape Under the Forever Sky

Escape Under the Forever Sky

Escape Under the Forever Sky

Thirteen year-old Lucy’s mom is the American Ambassador to Ethiopia. You’d think Lucy’s life would be exciting, exotic and adventure filled. Instead, Lucy lives in the Embassy compound behind walls that separate her from the real Ethiopia. She’s bored! The prospect of a long, hot, boring summer is more than she can stand! Enter her friend Tana who is more than happy to arrange an evening “jail break” when Lucy’s mother is out of town.

The problem? There is a reason for those protective walls around the Embassy compound and one of those reasons snatches Lucy off the street and whisks her far away from everything and everyone she knows.  Lucy finds herself tied up in a scrap-wood shack with nothing but a straw mat, a blanket, a kerosene lamp and a bucket.

Don’t let the cover fool you – this is a tense, breathless survival story that tells Lucy’s tale – how she figured out how to get out of the shack only to find herself lost in the middle of a forbidding jungle and how she uses her wits, her knowledge of the land and animals and her ability to calm herself to think her way out of a worst case scenario. It also helped to have some lions on her side. Yes, lions!

This story could have come right from today’s headlines, and in fact, it did! Escape from the Forever Sky is based on the story of a real 12 year-old girl who was kidnapped in 2005 in Ethopia and managed to escape and save herself, not only from the kidnappers, but from the harsh environment she escaped to. Author: Eve Yohalem

Look Inside Escape From the Forever Sky

In Escape Under the Forever Sky Lucy uses her wits and her outdoor skills to survive. She’s not the only one who can survive a worst-case-scenario in the great outdoors:
Night of the Howling Dogs Hatchet My Side of the Mountain How to Survive in the Wilderness
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all the broken pieces

all the broken pieces

all the broken pieces

In 1975, toward the end of the Vietnam war, many children were airlifted away from the fighting in Vietnam and sent to The United States. Many of the children were orphans, but some of the children were put on the helicopters by their own parents, parents who hoped to keep their children from being hurt in the war.

Can you imagine how sad it would be to have to send your child to strangers in a strange land? And what if you were one of the children? Would you understand if your mom or dad sent you away, even it it was for a good reason?

all the broken pieces is the story of one of these children, Matt Pin, who still has nightmares about the war and carries in his heart a secret he is afraid to tell. It’s a secret he’s even afraid to think about too much.

Matt is 12 now and has loving adoptive parents here in The United States. He goes to school and he plays baseball. He is living the American dream his mother hoped for him when she put him on the helicopter to escape the war. But underneath the dream are Matt’s memories and the memories of what he left behind in Vietnam. These memories are too strong to ignore and too important to keep hidden.

I loved reading this story and watching Matt begin to reveal the pieces of his life he has kept secret. Matt’s story is the kind that makes you cry. Imagining yourself in his shoes, or in his Vietnamese mother’s shoes – that’s really hard. But Matt’s story also makes you feel good because you see the hope and goodness that grew out of a bad thing. That doesn’t mean the War didn’t cause a lot of pain, it just means that people survived the pain and made good things happen as they moved forward. That’s a really hopeful message. Author: Ann E. Burg

Look Inside all the broken pieces

More stories about other kids who lived through the Vietnam War and found their own ways to cope and their own kind of hope for a more peaceful future:
Kaleidoscope Eyes Cracker the Best Dog in Vietnam Shooting the Moon Vietnam War
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Kid Review: Holes

Kid Review: Holes

Elease says:

I think Holes was excellent. It was well written, and had a good plot. I especially liked how the story all tied together. Two thumbs up.

I agree with Elease, Holes is excellent! Here is a summary from the online catalog: “As further evidence of his family’s bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a correctional camp in the Texas desert where he finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a new sense of himself.” Holes won the Newbery Medal in 1999 – along with a whole bunch of other awards. In 2003 Louis Sachar gave the Indianapolis McFadden Lecture. Kids lined up for hours to have him sign their books. He was a really good sport too and stayed until the line was finished. Author: Louis Sachar

  • Amazon Look Inside Holes
  • Louis Sachar Official Website
  • Louis Sachar on Holes
  • Google Books Holes (Scroll to the last pages and read the bonus material, “Real Dirt” from Louis Sachar’s family about being related to an author that is a kids’ favorite.)
  • Holes on CD, Downloadable eBook or eAudio
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We Can’t All Be Rattlesnakes

We Can’t All Be Rattlesnakes

We Can't All Be Rattlesnakes

  • If you’ve ever thought about what it might be like to be your pet, try Crusher’s story, the tale of snake held captive in a young boy’s bedroom.

Remember Syd in Toy Story? The boy who abused toys? Remember, Syd straps Woody and Buzz to the rocket?  The boy in this story reminds me of Syd. I really would not want to be one of his pets.

The boy’s name is Gunnar and he has captured Crusher because he wants to watch her eat mice. Gunnar gets mad when Crusher refuses to eat. Crusher is determined to escape despite the warnings given to her by other captive creatures in Gunnar’s room. When he gets bored, Gunner forgets to feed the animals. In their view, the only way out is dead.

Crusher is determined to break that cycle and studies the human that has captured her to strategize a way out.

It’s always good to think about things from another person (or animal’s) perspective. As Crusher says,  “Humans give me the creeps. Theyare so slimy.” Crusher will remind you to get up and go feed those goldfish and take the dog for a nice long walk. Those pets can’t talk, but if they could, they’d probably sound a lot like Crusher.

Browse Inside We Can’t All Be Rattlesnakes

Crusher looks like a Rattlesnake but is actually a Gopher Snake. Read more:

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