A young boy relates his adventures during the year he spends living alone in the Catskill Mountains including his struggle for survival, his dependence on nature, his animal friends, and his ultimate realization that he needs human companionship.
“I picked MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN in honor of the author, Jean Craighead George, who passed away recently at the age of 92. This is the story of Sam Gribley, one of eleven children, who is tired of living with his large family. He decides to live on his own in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York for a year. He finds a hollowed out tree and makes it his home. His only company is a falcon and a weasel. It is a great story of Sam’s courage and his struggle to survive. This is the first in a trilogy that includes On the Far Side of the Mountain and Frightful’s Mountain.”
After setting off from the island where he has been leading a solitary existence, thirteen-year-old Martin discovers a village with other children who have been living similarly without any adults, since the grown-ups have all been spirited away. Author: Aaron Starmer
“Martin lives on a lonely island with his eccentric father, who insists on staying apart from society to work on his “machine”. Martin has very little contact with other people, not even with the summer visitors to the island, knowing about the rest of the world only from books.
One day Martin’s father goes off to get the last part for the machine and never returns. When the summer people don’t return either, Martin rows to the mainland and discovers that everyone in the world has disappeared, except for about 30 children. These children from all over the United States have mysteriously found their way to a town they have named Xibalba. There they build a small attempt at community while trying to figure out where everyone went. Things get much stranger after Martin arrives.
This is a tense, gripping novel, in the tradition of other child-centered societies like Lord of the Flies and Ender’s Game, flavored by a Stephen King-like eeriness, but with original characters and twists. Questions are answered by the end, but not in ways that readers will predict. 5th-8th grade level.”
Manjiro is only 14 years old when he takes a job on a Japanese fishing boat to help support his family. A big storm shipwrecks the fisherman on a deserted island for several months. When they are finally rescued by an American whaling boat they are almost starved to death.
The year is 1841 and as strange as this may seem to us, the country of Japan had a really isolationish view of the world back then. That means that they just wanted to be left alone. They did not want any influences from outside their own country. What this means for Manjiro and the other fisherman is that they cannot return to Japan even though the American whaling ship can easily take them there. If the men return to Japan they could be put in jail…or killed. I know, it sounds really odd to us now but that’s the way it was back then.
So, the American ship takes the fishermen to Hawaii instead. The ship’s captain takes Manjiro under his wing and offers to take him on to America as his adopted son. Manjiro accepts this offer and becomes what is thought to be the first Japanese person to set foot in America. I love this part of the book because it is so different. This Japanese boy goes to school and learns to run a farm in 1840s America.
After Manjiro finishes his education and after he sails around the world, Manjiro decides to return to Japan 1. because he wants to see his mother and 2. because he wants to show that the outside world is not dangerous. He does this even though he knows he might be killed. What happens next in his life sounds like something made up in a movie…or a book…but this times it’s TRUE. Manjiro was a real person and the unbelievable things in this books really did happen. Manjiro left Japan as a poor boy with no future. He returns and Japan is never the same again. Author: Margi Preus Newbery Honor Book 2010
Shipwrecked and Manjiro are both biographies about the real Manjiro – yes, he was real. The discipline, secrecy and skill of samurai is very mysterious – and interesting. The next two are about samurai training. If you liked the survival part of Manjiro’s story try the next four – all about survival at sea.
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.
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