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 named 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.
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- 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.
- Water for Sudan – Salva’s own organization that drills wells to provide water to people Southern Sudan.
- IndyPL Kids’ Blog Booklist: Kids Changing the World – Like You! – Listed here are books about ways you can give back to your community as well as books about kids, both real and imagined, who have made a real difference.