Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Day of the Pelican (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

The Day of the Pelican (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

4.0 7
by Katherine Paterson

See All Formats & Editions

FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. Having endured so much hardship to escape Kosovo and her Serbian oppressors, Meli Lleshi is happy to start anew in Vermont, but after the 9/11 attacks, Meli fears what is to come as a result of the anti-Muslim sentiment that has begun to spread in the land of the free.


FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. Having endured so much hardship to escape Kosovo and her Serbian oppressors, Meli Lleshi is happy to start anew in Vermont, but after the 9/11 attacks, Meli fears what is to come as a result of the anti-Muslim sentiment that has begun to spread in the land of the free.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
Children's Literature - Cynthia Levinson
Meli Lleshi, who is eleven when this book by the author of Bridge to Terabithia opens in 1997, knows that her Albanian family is in danger in Kosovo. Serbians and their leader Milosevic are threatening them, and neighbors have disappeared or been killed. Then, Meli makes things even worse. She draws a caricature of her teacher in the form of a pelican and is required to stay after school rather than walk home with her thirteen-year-old brother Mehmet. He leaves alone—and is kidnapped, beaten, and left for dead. By the tine he returns, he has become embittered and spiteful. The Lleshis soon flee, successively joining other refugees in a camp town in a forest, moving in with relatives, walking hundreds of miles toward Macedonia, which refuses them entry, and then to a refugee camp. Throughout, they face starvation, bombings, and homelessness but always "hold onto each other." Their lowest point, among many on this emotional journey, may be the day their car, laden with their belongings, is stolen and their house burned. Ultimately, after leaving behind Granny, they arrive in America where Meli, Mehmet, and the rest of the family must manage a new language, culture, school, work, and friendships. A final blow lands on September 11, 2001. Nominally Muslim, Meli and Mehmet are blamed by their soccer teammates for terrorist attack. Fortunately, their coaches rectify the misunderstanding, and even Mehmet, who is trying to overcome his bitterness, agrees to be a team player. The story is informative not only about history and politics but also about the daily lives of Kosovars; at times, however, it wears its facts too overtly. Meli is an appealing character who carries the tale ofrefugees to America, although she does not age convincingly as the book's 140 pages leapfrog four years. Reviewer: Cynthia Levinson
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—The war in Kosovo in the 1990s is brought to life in Katherine Paterson's novel (Clarion, 2009). The story follows Meli Lleshi, a 12-year-old Albanian girl, and her family as they begin to see violence escalating in their small town. The Serbians are the dominant force in the country and, under the leadership of war criminal Slobodan Milosevic, their brutality against the minority groups knows no boundaries. When the Lleshis and their extended family see the handwriting on the wall, they escape just as the violence reaches their doorstep. The trek to safety in Macedonia is a struggle, but they finally arrive at a refugee camp. When NATO effectively ends the war, Meli's family decides to move to America where new struggles and hurdles await them. The story provides insight into the Albanian culture, the war in Kosovo, and what it feels like to be an immigrant in a new land. It also offers a glimpse into the role of women in these cultures. Narrator Tavia Gilbert does a marvelous job of representing the family's accents when necessary but, for the most part, her narration is unaccented. She perfectly voices the emotional struggles of Meli and her family as they attempt to survive. A welcome addition to historical fiction and multicultural collections.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Kirkus Reviews
A realistically harsh yet hopeful account of an Albanian Kosovar family's flight from the violence ravaging their beloved home. When, for no apparent reason, Meli's brother Mehmet is nabbed, held in a Serbian prison and beaten before making it back home, Baba decides they must flee. They first go to Uncle Fadil's farm, but the violence eventually follows them there; Serbian soldiers take all of their possessions, then torch the house. The family hikes to a refugee camp on the Macedonian border, where they live until immigrating to America. Although the adults struggle to learn English and face difficulty finding suitable work, the family settles in fairly well. The children, too, ultimately face challenges, including mistreatment by their classmates following 9/11. Although Meli and Mehmet are interesting, dynamic characters, Paterson is so intent on covering, however briefly, all the issues that a family like Meli's would face that she fails to work her typical spellbinding magic. Nonetheless, a solid addition to the scant offerings on this subject. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10 & up)

Product Details

Turtleback Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 7.75(h) x (d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Day of the Pelican

By Paterson, Katherine


Copyright © 2010 Paterson, Katherine
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780547406275

Chapter 1
The Lleshis of Kosovo

Terrible things should never happen in springtime, and it was almost spring. March had arrived on the Plain of Dukagjin, and even though most days were still bitter with the raw dampness of late winter, they were getting longer. Today had been one of those rare, bright days promising that spring would eventually come. The afternoon sun fell warm on Meli’s hands as she took in the wash Mama had hung out this morning. In the light breeze the multicolored plastic clothespins danced like little people atop the line. She should remember that thought—put it into a poem, or at least tell Zana at school the next day. They shared silly thoughts, she and Zana. That’s why they were best friends—that and the fact that both their fathers had come from farm villages and so weren’t proper “citizens” in the eyes of their classmates whose families had long lived in town. They weren’t looked down on like Gypsies or hated like Serbs, but still, there was a difference, and she and Zana knew it and shared it.
Meli dropped Baba’s best shirt into the basket at her feet and took a deep breath. Was there a smell of spring in the air? She longed for spring, when the two cherry trees in the back corner ofthe garden would bloom and the storks would return from their winter vacation in Africa. She tried to imagine the great birds flying over that immense continent, across Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Or did they choose a more daring flight over the Mediterranean Sea to come home to Kosovo? She’d have to ask Mr. Uka. Their teacher liked to be asked  unusual questions. It gave him a chance to show off a bit, tell them about his trip years ago to the shore of the Adriatic Sea.
Meli had never seen any sea. She had never been anywhere, really. But she had seen pictures on  television of oceans larger than the Mediterranean. Mr. Uka had said that there were birds that crossed those oceans in their migrations—tiny birds, far smaller than the white storks. How brave that seemed. The thought of traveling as far as Prishtina made her stomach flutter.
Meli finished taking in the first line of clothes and started on the second. Beyond the bounds of the town she could see green patches of winter wheat and, in the distant west, the snowcapped Albanian Alps—the “Cursed Mountains,” people called them, but no one seemed to know quite why. To the south was the Sharr range, where, she had been told, wild horses ran free. She had seen them only in her imagination, but that didn’t make them less real, their manes streaming in the wind as they raced about joyfully, unseen, unheard, unthreatened by the petty hatreds of humankind.
It would be a long time before spring came to those heights, but the snow was already beginning to melt on the hillsides. The gold cross and red-tiled roof of an old Serbian Christian church stood out starkly against the grays and browns of late winter. Why do the Serbs hate us so? Though, to be honest, most Albanians hated the Serbs just as fiercely. Some of the girls at school could, and would, recite terrible poems against the Serbs. She could never understand hate like that. Baba had always taught them to respect, not to hate. But he was not like other people. Even now, just a few feet away, her two little brothers were playing war.Was that fun? It must be. They played it every day, although they knew Baba disapproved. She tried to think of spring and blossoms and the return of birdsong to the garden.
Adil’s yell broke her reverie. “Meli! Tell Isuf I’m the KLA man!”
“No,” Isuf said with the practiced authority of the older brother. “You’re a Serb. I’m the KLA soldier.”
“Meli!” Adil begged. “Isuf always makes me be a Serb policeman. Tell him to let me be the KLA man. It’s my turn.”
Meli sighed, keeping her eyes on Vlora’s frilly new dress as she took it off the line. She wouldn’t want to drop it; the ground was still muddy. “Stop fighting, boys. If you can’t take turns, find some other game to play.”
It was Mehmet’s fault. Their older brother was convinced that the Kosovo Liberation Army would soon save the Albanians. No matter what Baba said, Mehmet worshiped the KLA. Baba said they were more legend than fact, but Mehmet was convinced they were simply biding their time, waiting for a chance to free Kosovo from Serbian domination. Even Mr. Uka, pointing to the picture on their classroom wall of Skanderbeg, the Kosovars’ fifteenth-century hero, predicted that out of the KLA would arise a new Skanderbeg who would liberate Kosovo.
She must have heard the familiar rattle and roar without realizing it: Uncle Fadil’s ancient Lada Niva. Baba, as elder brother of the Lleshi family, had tried to convince him to sell it and buy a new tractor, but Uncle Fadil had refused. The Lada suited him. He had taken out the back seat so he could load the car for market. Ten years of carrying vegetables, chickens, and the occasional goat had not dealt kindly with the old Russian made vehicle. It was something of a family joke. “Well,”Mehmet would say, “you can always tell when Uncle Fadil is arriving— if not by the noise, then certainly by the smell.” But the truth was, Meli was distracted, and she wasn’t aware that the car had driven up until the brakes squawked and it pulled to a stop on the street in front of the store.
She dodged under the clothesline and ran around the edge of the building to see. Yes, it was Uncle Fadil’s car, but what was it doing here in the late afternoon? He should be home milking his cow and goats at this time of day.
“Isuf, Adil, run into the store and tell Baba that Uncle Fadil is here,” Meli said.
“I don’t want to go in. It’s my turn to be the KLA man.”
Just then the driver’s door opened. It took Uncle Fadil three tries to get it slammed shut again. Meanwhile, the passenger door opened, and his wife stepped out onto the curb. Why had Auntie Burbuqe come and left Granny alone on the farm? She never did that.
“Come on, Adil, let’s get Baba.” Isuf’s eyes were wide with fear. Even at eight he was old enough to realize that something was dreadfully wrong if both his aunt and uncle arrived unannounced.
A chill went through Meli. She called out to her uncle, “Is Granny all right?”
Uncle Fadil looked up, startled. “Granny? Yes, yes, of course.”
So it was something else. “I’ll—I’ll tell Mama you’re here,” Meli said, and raced around the building and up the outside stairs to the apartment above the store before slipping off her shoes at the door.
Before long, the whole family was assembled in the parlor: Uncle Fadil and Auntie Burbuqe took the two upholstered chairs, while Baba, Mama with Vlora on her lap, and Mehmet sat on the couch. Adil and Isuf propped themselves against their father’s knees. There was no place for Meli to sit except for the tiny stool in front of the television set, so she chose instead to lean against the frame of the kitchen door. Everyone was still, waiting. Even her long-dead grandfather and grandmother seemed to be staring out of their black-and-white photograph atop the t


Excerpted from The Day of the Pelican by Paterson, Katherine Copyright © 2010 by Paterson, Katherine. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet 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 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. In 2010, Katherine succeeded Jon Scieszka as the national ambassador for young people's literature today, a joint appointment by the Library of Congress's Center for the Book and Every Child a Reader, a nonprofit group affiliated with the Children's Book Council.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Day of the Pelican 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thsi book sounds really goo even though it is a sad story!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
What if you suddenly found yourself homeless and not wanted in your country of birth? What if you had to leave all that you know and love and flee with just the clothes on your back? This is what happens to Meli, who lived in Kosovo during the 1990's. The Serbians in Kosovo wanted all of the Albanians living there to be gone. First Meli and her family flee to a mountain camp, and finally to a refugee camp. This is a very sad story but it does have a happy ending. When I was reading this, I kind of remembered what happened during that time period but had to Google it to really discover what had occurred. (I was raising children during that time and had forgotten.) It makes me sad that even to this day we still have people who hate others and want to extinguish their race. I picked up THE DAY OF THE PELICAN because I love all of Katherine Paterson's books. Thank you, Ms. Paterson, for another fine story. I challenge you to read about this subject and not want to do something about it, even if it is only to be aware of other cultures and give them your respect.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago