Little, Brown and Company
fp September 2014
The Red Pencil
Andrea Davis Pinkney
from Hachette Book Group...
Finally, Amira is twelve. Old enough to wear a toob, old enough for new responsibilities. And maybe old enough to go to school in Nyala-- Amira's one true dream.
But life in her peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when the Janjaweed arrive. The terrifying attackers ravage the town and unleash unspeakable horrors. After she loses nearly everything, Amira needs to dig deep within herself to find the strength to make the long journey-- on foot-- to safety at a refugee camp. Her days are tough at the camp, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mind-- and all kinds of possibilities.
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Amira is a 12 year old girl living in South Darfur, Africa, with her mother, father and younger sister, Leila. Dreaming of attending Gad Primary School, like her friend Halima, Amira just has to convince her mother, who has strong traditional views of what roles are for girls. With her father and friend/neighbour, Old Anwar, onside it seems maybe Amira may follow in the footsteps of her friend Halima. But then the Janjaweed (militia) attack the village and Amira and her family, along with Old Anwar, flee. On the way Amira’s father is killed along with many other villagers. The family are forced to seek out the Kalma refugee camp. Amira is overcome with grief and can no longer speak. But she learns to communicate through the red pencil and yellow paper provided by an aid worker…
What an engaging novel, told in verse, this is. Told in first person, along with the illustrations throughout, this novel provides the reader with a moving insight into the world of a refugee fleeing their home. Being displaced and living in such a dangerous war-torn country, however, does not stop Amira’s dreams of an education and this shines through, despite the harsh reality. A great story for middle grade readers looking for a moving read.