Amira loves her life with her family in her farming village in South Darfur, Africa. Yet she longs for something more-to learn . . .to write . . .to read. Her father understands , but her mother insists that attending school is a waste of time. Then the Janjaweed sweeps over the village, killing many people, including her father. The survivors are forced to flee to Kalma, a "displaced people's camp". Amira's dream of attending school seems even more unattainable in this poverty-stricken place. Then a woman visits and gives Amira a red pencil and a yellow tablet. Hope begins to surge within her.
Through verse, Ms. Pinkney portrays Amira's life events vividly. Ms. Pinkney includes numerous issues (African rural life, violence, the grief process, refugee camp) with accuracy.
Points to discuss: Islam/Allah (Amira's religion), the Janjaweed, refugees, illiteracy among girls, losing a parent/grief process, violence (descriptive about the blood and people falling)
*Highly recommend for junior high and older (content)-see above "points to discuss").