Children's Literature - Heidi GreenThe most noteworthy characteristic of this book is its format. The first is an introductory overview of Ethiopia's history and politics. This is followed by eight brief essays about Ethiopian youths' experiences told, as indicated by the series title, "in their own words." The stories, from 1 1/2 to 4 pages in length, recount the struggles of life in-and the hardships of leaving-Ethiopia. Common amongst the stories are the teens' determination to survive and their strong sense of family. Although Schnapper supplements the text with color pictures, a glossary, a list of further readings, and an index, this book will disappoint readers seeking information about the culture or ethnic traditions of Ethiopian peoples.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 5 UpTeenagers fleeing from Ethiopia and Rwanda relate how they came to be refugees in the United States and Canada. Each title begins with a brief historical survey, followed by profiles of eight young people, each in a separate chapter. The terrible conditions that forced them to leave their homeland; the dangers faced during the actual escapes; and the current challenges they meet in overcoming the language barrier and adjusting to life in an alien culture are all discussed. As one young refugee explains, "They [American kids] called me names because I couldn't understand English. They destroyed my books and made fun of me." Over a dozen black-and-white and a few color photographs accompany the text. About half consist of snapshots of the refugees. While it is admirable that these clearly written books afford young refugees a means of expressing their sadness and frustrations at being displaced, the historical background the introductions provide is superficial and misleading. Specifically, the texts omit information on the role played by Western powers in the gradual destruction of African societies through slavery, colonialism, neocolonialism, exploitation of natural resources, and imperialism. All things considered, these titles do not provide a thorough historical background of these countries and do not deal honestly with the issues facing the young exiles. Readers deserve a more truthful account of these tragic events than these bland titles can provide.Gebregeorgis Yohannes, San Francisco Public Library, CA
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