The Day of the Pelican

2009

Eleven year old Meli Lleshi is living a happy life with her Muslim Albanian family in Kosovo in 1998 when her life is turned upside down by the Kosovo War between the Serbs and the Albanians.  The murder of fellow Albanians and the brief but terrifying disappearance of Meli's 13 year old brother, Mehmet, mark the beginning of this story.  On the run from ethnic cleansing, Meli's family will abandon their home and business on a journey to escape.  This journey will take them to the mountains, Uncle's farm, miles of traveling on foot while pushing Grandma in a wheelbarrow, a terrifying train ride, a crowded refugee camp in Macedonia and eventually to the United States.  When the children are going to school in Vermont and adjusting to U.S. culture, the events of 9/11 lead some American students to misjudge and mistreat Meli and Mehmet. Lessons of prejudice abound in this story. Recommended for age 11 and up.

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