Since Perfect Picture Book Fridays is on a break for the Valentine’s Day writing contest, I’m sharing two middle grade favorites. Both of these novels by Linda Sue Park use two voices to narrate the story.
Title: A Long Walk to Water
Written by: Linda Sue Park
Clarion Books, 201
Fiction based on a true story
Suitable for ages: 10 and up
Themes/topics: refugees, water, Sudan, survival, civil war
Brief synopsis: (from barnesandnoble.com) The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.
Title: When My Name Was Keoko
Written by: Linda Sue Park
Clarion Books, 2002, historical fiction
Suitable for ages: 9 and up
Themes/topics: World War II, Korea
Brief Synopsis: (from barnesandnoble.com) Sun-hee and her older brother, Tae-yul, live in Korea with their parents. Because Korea is under Japanese occupation, the children study Japanese and speak it at school. Their own language, their flag, the folktales Uncle tells them—even their names—are all part of the Korean culture that is now forbidden. When World War II comes to Korea, Sun-hee is surprised that the Japanese expect their Korean subjects to fight on their side. But the greatest shock of all comes when Tae-yul enlists in the Japanese army in an attempt to protect Uncle, who is suspected of aiding the Korean resistance. Sun-hee stays behind, entrusted with the life-and-death secrets of a family at war.
Why I like these books:
The writing is superb, bringing us into the time and place to experience it with the characters. Both of these stories are told through two points of view, one male, one female, different ages. Both take place during conflicts in parts of the world that many of us know little about. Both have the potential open minds, touch hearts, and inspire discussion.
Activites and Resources:
There are a number of websites with teacher activities for both of these books.
Compare and contrast the two.
Do an author study. Author website: http://www.lindasuepark.com
Writing: Read an article in the newspaper or online about an incident in one of the conflicts today. Using first person, retell what happened from two different points of view.
The accessible reading level matched with the high level content in both of these books is suitable for English Language Learners and many others who benefit from hi/lo texts.
As mentor texts, both books offer great opportunities to study characterization, plot, and structure, right down to the sentence level.