Our February YA book and review is brought to you by Guest DENbrarian** Carole Romeiser!
At age 14, Matt is desperate to help his best friend, Aman. Aman has been seeking asylum in England since age 6, and now, along with his mother, is being held at Yarl‘s Wood immigration removal center, facing transfer back to Afghanistan.
While visiting his grandfather, a retired journalist, Matt gets an idea. Grandfather should visit Aman and write his story. Perhaps calling attention to Aman’s plight in the press will make an appeal successful. Reluctantly, Grandfather agrees to go to the prison. Surrounded by the sounds of slamming doors, keys turning in locks, and crying children, the visit begins. At first all the talk is about Matt, football, and the Monopoly game Grandfather brings, but when Aman sees a picture of Grandfather’s pet Springer spaniel, Dog, Aman begins to share the story of his family’s life in Afghanistan and the Springer, Shadow, that set him and his mother on the path to freedom.
In an interview, Michael Morpurgo discusses writing about war for children. He says that although it’s very difficult to tell children about war, it’s critical that they have an understanding of it because soon they will have to decide if they want to fight in wars themselves and will vote for those who decide if we go to war. He believes that to understand war it has to be made personal. For example, if you read that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, the number is so large that it seems impersonal. If, on the other hand, you read the story of Anne Frank, you have a very personal reaction to the story.
Shadow is the very personal story of Aman and his family from the time before the Russians came to Afghanistan with their planes and tanks through the arrival of the Taliban and afterwards. It’s a story of the courage, friendship, loyalty, and power of a few good people and one amazing dog who would not give up their dreams. Filled with action, the pace never lets up until the very last page. As Aman said, “Grandfather would have been proud of us. He had been a fighter for freedom, and so had father, in his own way. We must fight for our freedom and never give in.”
Let Shadow guide you safely through this difficult country, as he did Aman and so many others.
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**Be a guest DENbrarian… it’s as easy as 1,2,3!
1- Write one DEN blog post on the 1st day of the month announcing your book pick
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What’s on deck??
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