In war-torn Sudan, a girl must make heart-rending choices as she fights for survival and a chance at a future.
“This short, quickly paced narrative will stay with readers for the rest of their lives.” School Library Journali, STARRED REVIEW
“Moving and necessary.” Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW
For Poni, life in her small village in southern Sudan is simple and complicated at the same time. Stay in school. Beat up any boy who tries to show attention. Watch out for the dangers in the river. But then the war comes. And when soldiers arrive in her village and bombs begin to rain from the sky, there is only one thing for Poni to do. Run.
Poni runs for her life, and alongside thousands of refugees, she must then make a long, dusty trek across the east African countryside. Driven by the sheer will to survive, Poni finds her way to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, where she hopes to be reunited with her family. And if she is lucky, she will one day be able to convince the authorities that she is worthy to go to the land of opportunity. But the misery in Kakuma is almost overwhelming, and sooner than Poni could have imagined, she is on the run again.
With single-minded determination, Poni survives hell and back, but she cannot escape the war’s devastating psychological effects or her survivor’s guilt. In a heartbreaking final twist, Poni finds her mother just as she is about to leave for America—forcing her to make the hardest decision of all.
Key Text Features
Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:
Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.
Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
Laura DeLuca is a faculty member in the Sewall Residential Academic Program and the anthropology department at the University of Colorado-Boulder (CU-Boulder), where she teaches courses on refugees, Africa, social entrepreneurship and international development. DeLuca directs the Global Seminar, a study-abroad program in Tanzania at CU-Boulder, and she held a core faculty position in Peace Studies and Environmental Studies at Naropa University. She has done fieldwork in Tanzania and was a Peace Corps teacher in Western Kenya. She completed two tours with the Fulbright Specialist Program in South Africa and Cameroon. Laura DeLuca is a co-editor of the book Building Peace from Within: An Examination of Community-based Peacebuilding and Transitions in Africa. Laura lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her family and dog, Pika.
Readers will come away with clear pictures of gender roles in Poni’s culture as well as the South Sudan conflict’s devastating physical and psychological effects. . . . Moving and necessary. - Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW
This short, quickly paced narrative will stay with readers for the rest of their lives. - School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
Poni is such a fully realized and sympathetic character that she engages readers from start to finish. - Horn Book
“This short, quickly paced narrative will stay with readers for the rest of their lives.”
— School Library Journal, starred review
“Readers will come away with clear pictures of gender roles in Poni’s culture as well as the South Sudan conflict’s devastating physical and psychological effects. … Moving and necessary.” — Kirkus, starred review
“Poni is such a fully realized and sympathetic character that she engages readers from start to finish.” — Horn Book
“This is a profound rendering of a southern Sudanese female heroine who must first go down into darkness before she can rise. Women around the world will savor this stunning book.” — Marilyn Krysl, author of Dinner with Osama
Parent’s Choice Award for Fiction (Gold)
Colorado Book Award for Young Adult Literature
An ALA Notable Children’s Book
A USBBY Outstanding International Book
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