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Home of the brave

by Katherine Applegate.


Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 9780312367657]

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Publishers Weekly :

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In her first stand-alone book, Applegate (the Animorphs series) effectively uses free verse to capture a Sudanese refugee's impressions of America and his slow adjustment. After witnessing the murders of his father and brother, then getting separated from his mother in an African camp, Kek alone believes that his mother has somehow survived. The boy has traveled by flying boat to Minnesota in winter to live with relatives who fled earlier. An onslaught of new sensations greets Kek (This cold is like claws on my skin, he laments), and ordinary sights unexpectedly fill him with longing (a lone cow in a field reminds him of his father's herd; when he looks in his aunt's face, I see my mother's eyes/ looking back at me). Prefaced by an African proverb, each section of the book marks a stage in the narrator's assimilation, eloquently conveying how his initial confusion fades as survival skills improve and friendships take root. Kek endures a mixture of failures (he uses the clothes washer to clean dishes) and victories (he lands his first paying job), but one thing remains constant: his ardent desire to learn his mother's fate. Precise, highly accessible language evokes a wide range of emotions and simultaneously tells an initiation story. A memorable inside view of an outsider. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)

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Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 9780312367657]

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School Library Journal :

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Starred Review. Gr 5–7—American culture, the Minnesota climate, and personal identity are examined in this moving first-person novel written in free verse. Kek comes to the U.S. from war-torn Sudan via a refugee camp. He arrives on a "flying boat" and is mystified by "not dead" trees in winter. Through his fresh eyes, readers see both the beauty and the ugliness of our way of life. The words themselves are simple, but Applegate introduces some hard ideas. How does someone know he has done well at the end of the day if all the familiar benchmarks are suddenly gone? Kek is both a representative of all immigrants and a character in his own right. A creative thinker, a problem-solver, and an optimist despite the horrors that have befallen him, he is a warm and winning protagonist. He bridges his herding culture and our own by finding a cow that needs his care, even in a metropolitan area, and uses ingenuity when threatened with yet more loss on that front. Kek will be instantly recognizable to immigrants, but he is also well worth meeting by readers living in homogeneous communities.—Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL

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Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 0312367651]

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BookList :

From BookList, , 2007, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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Kek, a young Sudanese refugee, is haunted by guilt that he survived. He saw his father and brother killed, and he left his mother behind when he joined his aunt's family in Minnesota. In fast, spare free verse,áthis debut novel by nonfiction writer Applegate gets across the immigrant child's dislocation and loss as he steps off the plane in the snow. He does make silly mistakes, as when he puts his aunt's dishes in the washing machine. But he gets a job caring for an elderly widow's cow that reminds him of his father's herds, and he helps his cousin, who lost a hand in the fighting. He finds kindness in his fifth-grade ESL class, and also racism, and he is astonished at the diversity. The boy's first-person narrative is immediately accessible. Like Hanna Jansen's Over a Thousand Hills I Walk with You (2006), the focus on one child gets behind those news images of streaming refugees far away. Rochman, Hazel.

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