Start the School Year with Compelling, Realistic Fiction: ROW High School September 2015 SelectionAugust 28th, 2015 | Posted by in September | 2015-2016 | High School
Here are some the reasons that our High School Literacy Advisory Committee chose The Milk of Birds as a ROW selection. … the story draws you in with its appealing writing and sympathetic characters; the author offers believable school struggles; characters’ reactions felt realistic and authentic; learned a lot about the refugee experience and Darfur but book never felt didactic.
Read the CCBC annotation:
Nawra is a fourteen-year-old Muslim girl living in a refugee camp in the Darfur region of Sudan. Through a nonprofit called Save the Girls, she is paired with K.C., a Richmond, Virginia, teen, to exchange monthly letters. A novel that moves back and forth between the two girls chronicles their correspondence and their lives. In the camp, where living conditions are awful, Nawra cares for her silent and barely functional mother, who has been traumatized by what she and Nawra have gone through—events that are gradually revealed. Eventually Nawra tells K.C. that she’s pregnant—she was raped on their journey. Later she almost dies giving birth. K.C. is initially furious her mother signed her up for the correspondence program and doesn’t write Nawra for the first four months. She struggles in school with undiagnosed learning disabilities and faces constant pressure from her mom to try harder, while her dad seems uninterested. Sylvia Whitman’s novel is effective and compelling on multiple fronts. Both girls try to understand each other’s culture without judgment. But the truth is their experiences are vastly different. Once K.C. begins exchanging letters with Nawra in earnest, a genuine friendship develops, and she goes from reluctant correspondent to a teenager deeply moved. The pain of Nawra’s story is intense, but her voice is engaging and vivid, and the back-and-forth of the narrative provides respite from the horrors she sometimes describes. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Start discussion with these questions:
- What events and actions contribute to Casey’s change of heart regarding the “Save the Girls” program?
- How does the author suggest that taking action, either for yourself or others, makes a difference? Conversely, what are the consequences of being a bystander? Provide examples from the text.
- Which one of Nawra’s proverbs is most relevant to the problems of teenagers today?
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