Welcome to the 6th grade blog for book recommendations! Here you will find book titles and reviews by genre from Ms. Logan, Mrs. Haugevik, and Mrs. Robison :) You can use this to add books to your "books to read" list, or to just start a conversation with us about BOOKS!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Red Pencil


      I was drawn into the life of a young girl in Sudan while reading The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney.  Amira lives in Sudan and it is her twelfth birthday.  She is thrilled with her gifts:  a song sung to her by her younger sister, and a sharpened stick given to her by her father.  With the stick she is able to draw pictures in the sand.  She dreams of learning to read and write and wants desperately to go to school.  Although her father is open to her attending school, her mother tells her that her destiny is to be married, have children, and keep house. One night Amira’s village is attacked by the Janjaweed, a group of men that ravage the village and kill many people.  Amira, her mother and her sister travel to a refugee camp with some of the surviving villagers.  There Amira learns to heal from the horrors she has witnessed while secretly learning to read, keeping alive her dream of attending school.   
     Throughout this book Andrea Davis Pinkney points out that material items are not nearly as valuable as things we can not touch.  The things most valuable to Amira are safety, family, and education.  She lives in a war torn society where it is not uncommon to lose loved ones.  I can't imagine living in a place where I have to teach my children how to run and hide because there is a real chance that a group of men will terrorize my home and threaten the lives of my family.   Amira places so much value on simple gifts for her birthday, because they are given with such love.  Few of us in Yarmouth would be thrilled with a simple song and a stick as the only presents for our birthday, and yet maybe we should be.  Amira dreams of someday being able to attend school, something that I take for granted. Amira reminds us what a privilege education is.  This book made me realize how fortunate I am. 
     The Red Pencil is beautifully written in verse.  The author balances the innocence and strength of a young girl with the horrors of what is happening in some parts of Africa.   This is done while keeping the focus on Amira and her story.

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