This is the story of Kek, a refugee from Sudan. Kek's brother and father both perished in Sudan, and his mother is missing, leaving him in America without any of his immediate family. To quote the back cover of the book, "He wonders if the people in this new place will be like the winter - cold and unkind." As he takes each day at a time, he finds friendships: a girl in foster care who lives in his building, an older woman who owns a farm, and a cow. He's funny and grateful and sometimes sad for all that has changed in his life. It's such a touching, fabulous book! Oh, and it's written in verse, so it's a super quick read!
Here are some excerpts I flagged as I was reading. Hope it gives you a little sense of what this book is all about!
Of all the things I didn't know
this is the most amazing:
I didn't know
there would be so many tribes
from all over the world.
How could I have imagined
the way they walk through the world
side by side
all free to gaze the same sky
with the same hopes?
What would my father have said,
to see such a thing? My brother?
This country we live in really is quite spectacular, isn't it?
I don't know what to do with it all, I say.
I kick at a chair leg.
To have all this food and
all these books
and all this freedom.
I feel sort of...
I don't know the word.
It's so easy to forget all the things we have, all the things we take for granted. The following is another way Kek appreciates all that he can have here in America.
They give me a card with my name on it,
and let me look at book after book.
The library workers don't even know me,
and yet they promise I can take books home.
To be trusted with such precious gifts
is a great honor.
My father would have sung me
a song of pride
to see his son so trusted.
And sometimes when we really miss what we have lost...
I don't want to be here anymore.
I don't want to be in a place where
my words taste wrong in my mouth.
I don't want to live in a place where
candy for a kind girl makes people angry
and every year the trees must die.
I want to be in a place where the things
I love and know
are there within my reach.
But where is that place?
This book is highly recommended, and if you're about to embark on Lucy Calkins' fifth grade Units of Study, you're in for a treat!
Has anyone else out there read this? Thoughts?