Jamie Kelly makes me laugh every time. This is her 11th book and I still think she’s funny. I can be reading a Dear Dumb Diary book alone and still laugh outloud.
Jamie’s best friend is Isabella. Angeline is the girl she doesn’t like too much – Angeline is beautiful and smart and blah, blah, blah. When Jamie’s Aunt marries Angeline’s Uncle, it’s like they HAVE to be friends. At first, this doesn’t go all that well. But the summer after they become “almost related” Jamie has a change of heart.
“At some point during the summer, I started to think that it was wrong of me to hate Angeline because of how she looked. And smelled. And laughed. And smiled. And blinked. And sat.” (page 2″
Jealous much?! Jamie decides it isn’t Angeline’s fault that she was born beautiful, so Jamie decides not to hate her anymore.
“I know Dumb Diary. It’s hard to understand how excellent that makes me – to not hate somebody who seems to be asking for it – but let me clear it up for you: It makes me PURE excellent. As excellent as an angel with the power to shoot frosting out her eyes.” (page 3)
Only Jamie could impress herself for not hating someone! Now that Jamie doesn’t hate Angeline anymore she’s got TWO BFFs, both Angeline and Isabella.
But then Isabella says Jamie can kick her in the face and Jamie does. Isabella just can’t believe it. HOW could Jamie a “huge, girly, sissy girl” kick her, and kick her HARD? The girls decide that Jamie has somehow acquired some kind of boy superpowers. And these powers aren’t just physical either. Jamie can now figure out what boys are thinking, at least, she thinks she can. Is she right? Or are her new superpowers all wrong? Author: Jim Benton
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.
At Nate’s school there is a new “Guess that Baby” bulletin board. The board is full of sixth grader’s baby pictures.
Nate finds the best looking baby on the board and is sure it is Jenny, “the most awesome girl in the whole sixth grade….She’s the best-looking baby here. By FAR!” (page 9) But the picture ISN’T Jenny, it’s Gina, Nate’s LEAST favorite person in the whole world. And Nate has just announced to the whole sixth grade that Gina is the best looking, “by FAR!”
This is like one of those bad dreams where everyone else has clothes on and you’re in your underwear…I just might puke. (pages 13-14)
Nate’s day gets worse when he gets paired with Gina for a research project and gets stuck with her on his fleece-ball team. When Gina manages to get their team named the Kuddle Kittens instead of Wrecking Balls, Grave Diggers or No Mercy Nate tries to take matters into his own hands, with typical wimpy kid-like results. Author: Lincoln Peirce
Jamie Kelly’s got some big plans for her summer vacation including swimming with dolphins and watching every scary movie ever made. Her best friend Isabella has a list too. They combine the two lists for a shared “List of Summer Excellence.” The problem is that every single thing on their lists costs money, which they don’t have.
At dinner tonight, I talked a little about my summer plans. Mom and Dad made their “expensive” face at every one of my ideas. I don’t know how they do it, but they have a way of tilting their heads and twisting their eyebrows as if to say, “That Costs Too Much,” without ever actually opeing their mouths. It’s like living with a pair of disapproving mimes. (page 18)
Things start to look up for The Summer of Excellence when Jamie’s Uncle Dan and Aunt Carol come over and announce that they will take Jamie, Isabella, & their other (sort of) friend Angeline (who happens to be Uncle Dan’s niece) to Screamotopia, an amusement park at which they can accomplish one of their Summer of Excellence goals – ride a roller coaster.
Uncle Dan and Aunt Carol will pay for the car trip and the hotel – the three girls have to come up with the price of admission. No problem, they say. They can babysit, walk dogs, wash cars, sell lemonade – it will be noooo problem coming up with $100 a piece in 3 weeks. Exept we’re talking Jamie Kelly here. If there was ever a kid who could turn a group project into a disaster…it’s her! Laugh outloud funny diary entries from the one and only Jamie Kelly. If you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, give these a try. Author: Jim Benton