The Red Pencil

by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Shane W. Evans

A novel-in-verse divided into two parts begins on “Our Farm, South Darfur,... read more

A novel-in-verse divided into two parts begins on “Our Farm, South Darfur, Africa, March 2003 — September 2004.” Amira is a smart, observant twelve-year-old who loves to express herself through art, often drawing in the sand. She has a younger sister, Leila, and loving parents who disagree about whether Amira should learn to read — her father thinks she should, her mother does not. The rich, warm details of Amira’s daily life unfold, and then her village is attacked by the Janjaweed — the government-supported militia. It is terrifying, and it is devastating: Her father and many others are killed. In Part 2, “Kalma, April 2004 — June 2004,” Amira, her mother and her little sister travel with her father’s best friend, Old Anwar, and her sister’s best friend, the now-orphaned Gamal, to the Kalma refugee camp. Amira cannot speak, mute after all she has been through. But when an aid worker gives her a red pencil she starts to draw. Her healing has begun. Old Anwar begins secretly teaching her to read, and Amira dreams of leaving the camp and going to Nyala, where there is a school for girls, but it will mean leaving the rest of her family behind. In a lengthy author’s note Andrea Davis Pinkney tells more about the Darfur conflict, and the research and interviews that informed and inspired this moving story. (Age 12 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2015

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