Sunday, November 15, 2015

Book Review: Escape from Sudan

Recently I was contacted by Amanda DiCianni, when she asked me to review her new book.

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 Escape from Sudan looked interesting and educational, so I agreed.

About the Book
Action.  Adventure.  Suspense.  Escape from Sudan introduces school-aged readers to Elijah Bwoko, a teenage boy trying to reunite with his family in the war torn land of South Sudan.  Follow Elijah through eleven action-packed chapters along his journey to rescue his sisters from slavery, navigate a refugee camp in Uganda, and eventually make it safety in America.  Escape from Sudan gives children insight into another culture and will broaden their horizons about life in the Dark Continent.

My Thoughts
This book was written for young readers, to take them outside the comforts of their own secure lives and share the lives of Sudanese refugees and the challenges they face.  The book follows the story of Elijah, a boy transitioning into manhood, who lives in Sudan among the fighting, village raids, and capture of children to be sold into slavery or to become soldiers.  There is some backstory about the war in Sudan, and many references to their culture, food, and family and way of life as the story begins.

After previewing the book, I have decided not to read it with the boys just yet.  The book is intended for 8-12 year old children, and it is appropriate for that age range, and teens as well.  The author handles difficult subjects carefully.  However, my oldest is only 8, and being at the youngest end of the intended age range, I feel like some of the topics are a bit intense for their sensitivity levels.  I do believe this is an interesting book, well-written, and an important story to share, but since we do almost everything together, I will save it for when we are doing world/culture studies in another couple of years when both boys are older and better prepared for mature topics.  Upper elementary and middle school students can certainly read this book independently, but for younger students I'd suggest reading it together, because there are so many great discussion opportunities within the book.

While the book is fiction, the author has first-hand experience with Sudanese refugees, as she taught English to them in Cairo and has visited South Sudan and Uganda.  She knows their stories and their needs.  This book brings awareness to events around the world through the eyes of a child, and I would recommend it as a living book supplement to a history or geography study, or as a family read-aloud.

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