Thursday, February 26, 2009

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Raining cats and dogs.  A barrel of laughs.  These are phrases that Americans easily understand and throw around in everyday conversation.  Imagine being new to the country and trying to learn English - it could get pretty confusing.  Home of the Brave is the story of Kek, a refugee boy from Africa.  He has arrived to Minnesota to live with his aunt and his cousin, Ganwar.  Kek's father and brother were killed in Africa during fighting.  His mother's whereabouts are unknown but Kek hopes against hope that she will arrive safely in America.  Minnesota is a strange new place to Kek, it is cold and snowy.  He attends school and is helped by a social worker named Dave.  He makes friends with a girl in his apartment building named, Hanhah.  In Kek's homeland, cattle are revered.  Kek finds work at a small local farm taking care of a cow he has named Gol, which means "family" in his native language.  There are certain issues that Kek does not understand, like why a group of boys gets mad at him for befriending a "white girl."  This book is very beautifully written in verse and explores the struggles and trials of people landing in a new place, trying to make their way.  It is a 2010 Rebecca Caudill nominee and multiple copies will soon be available in youth services.

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