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The Day of the Pelican
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About the Author

Katherine Paterson's international fame rests not only on her widely acclaimed novels but also on her efforts to promote literacy in the U.S. and abroad. A two-time winner of the Newbery Medal (Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved) and the National Book Award (The Great Gilly Hopkins and The Master Puppeteer), she was the 1998 recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Medal and was given the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts by her home state of Vermont. She lives in Barre. Her most recent novel for Clarion was Bread and Roses, Too. She is also the recipient of the 2006 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, which celebrates her life's work. For more information, visit www.terabithia.com.

Reviews

In this powerful, finely crafted novel, Paterson unveils the experience of Muslim Albanians in the Kosovo war through her memorable heroine, Meli, who turns 11 just as her family flees genocide. Through Meli's gaze, Paterson skillfully defines the culture of Kosovo, including the strictly defined gender roles, large extended families and social hierarchy that pits Serb against Albanian and looks down on families, like Meli's, from the countryside. News of the murder of 70 members of an Albanian family and the brief disappearance of Meli's 13-year-old brother, Mehmet, drive her family into exile: first in a mountain camp, then as refugees in Macedonia ("They might die, but they would at least die together," thinks Meli as her family is crammed into a crowded train) and finally to the United States. Lest readers feel distanced from the prejudice at the heart of this story, after 9/11, Meli and Mehmet endure taunting based on their heritage. Spanning vast distances and several years, Paterson offers a realistic and provocative account of these refugees' plight, balanced by the hope of new beginnings and the resilience of the human spirit. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Gr 5-8-On the day 11-year-old Meli draws a picture of a pelican that bears a striking resemblance to her teacher-and gets caught-spring is just around the corner in Kosovo. But along with the change in season in 1998 come life-altering changes for Albanian Kosovars, the ethnic group to which Meli's family belongs. Because she is forced to stay after class, her 13-year-old brother, Mehmet, heads home alone and is taken by the Serbian police, beaten, and dumped in a field to die. When he returns home after being nursed to health by the Kosovo Liberation Army, his family must flee. Surviving extreme hardship and violence, they arrive in a refugee camp, and at long last immigrate to the United States. All is well until the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when their family is mistreated for being Muslim, albeit nonpracticing. Kindness and forgiveness on both sides bring about healing and the realization that the Lleshis have truly found a home. The themes of family loyalty and living peaceably with others along with the exploration of ethnic prejudice are handled so as to make for meaningful discussion in a classroom or book group, and the span of the main characters' ages through their teen years makes the book an appropriate choice for a wide range of readers. The setting, complete with television and other fixtures of contemporary life, demonstrates that this sort of tragedy belongs to our own time and not just the distant past. While attempts to explain the political situation at times break the flow of the narrative, this little-known piece of history has been brought to life with sensitivity and grace.-Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"[A] powerful, finely crafted novel."--Publishers Weekly "Paterson exposes the complexities of a war halfway around the globe and how its scars reach across an ocean. Young readers who did not know where Kosovo was before will not forget it after reading the Lleshis's remarkable story."--Shelf Awareness

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