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Chanda's Wars
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Chanda's Wars

4.5 7
by Allan Stratton, Romeo Dallaire, Romeo Dallaire (Afterword)

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She promised her mama she'd keep them safe.

It's been six months since Mama died, and Chanda is struggling to raise her little brother and sister. Determined to end a family feud, she takes them to her relatives' remote rural village.

But across the nearby border, a brutal civil war is spreading. Rebels led by the ruthless General Mandiki attack at


She promised her mama she'd keep them safe.

It's been six months since Mama died, and Chanda is struggling to raise her little brother and sister. Determined to end a family feud, she takes them to her relatives' remote rural village.

But across the nearby border, a brutal civil war is spreading. Rebels led by the ruthless General Mandiki attack at night, stealing children. All that separates Chanda from the horror is a stretch of rugged bush and a national park alive with predators. Soon, not even that. Before she knows it, Chanda must face the unthinkable, with a troubled young tracker as her unlikely ally.

Chanda's Wars is the unforgettable story of a teenager who risks everything to save her brother and sister. Epic in its sweep, intimate in its humanity, here is a gripping tale of family intrigue, love and courage, forgiveness and hope.

Editorial Reviews

AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 18.

If readers were not impressed by Chanda Kabelo’s resilience and courage in the Michael L. Printz Honor Book Chanda’s Secrets, they certainly will be while reading this sequel. After her mother surrenders to AIDS, Chanda takes on the responsibility of caring for her brother Soly and sister Iris. She has hopes of opening a Friendship Center in memory of her mother, but her relatives in Tiro--a fictitious country in Africa--have other ideas. They want Chanda to marry their neighbor’s son and use her land in Bonang as a dowry that will help improve their own living conditions. Only recently reunited with her maternal grandparents and older sister, Chanda has no trouble objecting to such an arrangement. Before the matter is settled, war in a neighboring country comes to Tiro and directly infringes upon Chanda and her family’s safety. Stratton briefly summarizes the main conflict in the first book to illuminate some of the issues in this volume, which can stand alone. Chanda is a complex character readers can admire. The pace of the novel is a bit slow, however, and readers will probably have to cling to their interest in Chanda to make it to the more compelling aspects of the book. For example, the author’s depiction of the plight of child soldiers is so vivid and gruesome, readers will cheer for Chanda as she heroically frees her brother and sister when they are forced to join General Mandiki’s militia. An afterword written by the head of United Nations forces during the Rwandan genocide helps explain the very real and frightening experiences Stratton so movingly fictionalizes. Reviewer: KaaVonia Hinton, Ph.D.
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

Orphaned by the AIDS epidemic raging across Africa, Chanda Kabele becomes parent and provider for her younger siblings. Isolated from her mother's relatives by a long-running family feud, Chanda manages to make a home for her brother and sister with the help of friends and neighbors. Life is stable until her mother's family issues an emotional plea for Chanda to visit and heal old wounds. Upon arrival, Chanda realizes that the family's real motivation for the invitation is an arranged marriage between Chanda and the neighbor's son, Nelson. Too independent to acquiesce, Chanda reignites the family rift by refusing. Against this backdrop, Chanda's world explodes into violence when a ruthless rebel faction launches a cross-border raid, murdering some of her relatives and neighbors and kidnapping the children. While their numb, distraught families try to pick up the pieces, Chanda and Nelson pursue the retreating army cross-country to get their siblings back. Although a continuation of the story begun in Chanda's Secrets (Annick Press, 2004/VOYA December 2004), this novel easily stands alone. Stratton crafts a beautifully written tale of family, loyalty, loss, and love. Ripped-from-the-headlines action keeps the pages turning, but complex, fully realized characters make readers want to linger. Chanda herself is a marvel. Gifted with uncommon courage and strength, her tenderness and vulnerability make her real and utterly compelling. This novel is a masterpiece, revealing that beauty can exist in the most unlikely situations and that beauty will win, in the end. Descriptions of war are graphic but central to the story. Reviewer: Amy Fiske
Children's Literature - Nicole Peterson
Chanda has had a hard life. After her mother died from AIDS she was left to take care of her two younger siblings, Iris and Soly. When life becomes very difficult for Chanda, she decides to take a trip to the village where her mother grew up to heal old wounds and get help from her other relatives. Unfortunately both plans backfire, and instead of having a much needed break, Chanda is cast out of the family (because she refuses to marry the boy next door to heal old family wounds), and her younger siblings are kidnapped and forced to join Mandiki's rebel army. Chanda then shows even more courage as she enters the Bush to rescue the children. She makes the best of the impossible situation she is thrown into. This book is a fictional story with a fictional war, but it is based on real life events in various parts of Africa. The atrocities of this child-war are described in this book but are not terribly graphic. However, the content of this book is not appropriate for younger children. The author does an excellent job of describing what happens with only vague details. The book deals with pain, faith, shame, guilt, courage, and hope. Readers will find this powerful book intriguing and moving. Reviewer: Nicole Peterson
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up- Chanda has reached some level of stability in her life since readers first met her in Chand's Secrets (Annick, 2004). She takes care of her younger brother and sister and works as a teaching assistant to support her family. However, Chanda is pursued by nightmares. Friends and neighbors soon persuade her to take her siblings to the countryside to end the feud with their mother's family. The ravages of AIDS and poverty on a fictional, but realistic sub-Saharan African country are once again depicted with unflinching honesty, but it is the issue of child soldiers, a tragedy that affects more than 300,000 children around the world, that takes center stage. Stratton deftly handles the devastating effects war can have on young people. Horrific things happen to the characters, though Chand's first-person narrative never gets unnecessarily graphic in the detail. The author strives for authenticity in the psyche of child soldiers and, through substantial research, captures a voice that is seldom heard. This story is both suspenseful and engaging. Chanda is steadfast in the face of adversity, and the book is as hopeful and spirited as its protagonist.-Ernie Bond, Salisbury University, MD

Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Still raw from bringing her mother home to die six months ago, Chanda raises her young siblings in this forceful sequel. A recurring nightmare prompts a visit to the rural relatives who left Chanda's mother to die of AIDS alone in the bush. They consider Chanda cursed and urge redemption through an arranged marriage. Horrified, she tries to take Iris and Soly back to the city when violence explodes. A sociopathic warlord from a bordering country brings a bloodbath down on the village and steals the young children to use as soldiers. Despite the deranged "rebel" army's machine guns and machetes, Chanda sneaks through the bush in pursuit, desperate to recover her siblings. Her intended husband joins her, tracking his brother. That they do save the children is an implausible but heart-wrenching relief. Iris and Soly's long-term scars-physical (branding) and emotional (they were forced to burn homes with people inside)-are gravely realistic. Stratton's setting (as in Chanda's Secrets, 2004) is a fictional African country, so the explanatory author's note is required reading for this outstanding piece. (afterword, author's note) (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.12(h) x 1.36(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chanda's Wars

By Allan Stratton HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008
Allan Stratton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060872649

Chapter One

In my dream, Mama is alive and well.

We're on Granny Thela's cattle post outside Tiro. The bush land stretches farther than I can see. Cows graze freely in the grasses, cluster for shade beneath the broad-boughed acacia trees, and wander around thickets of scrub brush. Mama's sitting on a slab of rock in the shade of a termite mound. I'm by her feet. We're at the abandoned campsite where I found her dying six months ago.

It's a rainy-season dream, but the sky is clear. The sun is hot. Mama's cotton dress clings to her body. "What a glorious day to be alive," she laughs. I love her laugh; deep and rich, it lifts the day like sunshine. She fans herself with a palm leaf and soaks her feet in a bucket of water drawn from the nearby stream. Orchids grow out of her hair.

In the clearing, my little brother and sister twirl each other in circles. Soly is five, but looks about seven. He's tall for his age, a tangle of legs, my baby giraffe. Iris is six, and tough like a nut. The combs in her hair are the size of her head. The two collapse in a dizzy squeal.

"You've kept them safe," Mama says. "I can rest easy." She smiles, and offers me a biscuit from the pocket of her apron. I'm about to say thank you, when she sniffs the air. "We have to go."

"But we just got here."

"There's going to be a storm."

She's right. Out of nowhere, clouds are rolling in.

I face the clearing. "Soly,Iris—we have to go." But the clearing has turned into savanna. Soly and Iris have disappeared in the tall grasses.

"They're playing hide-and-seek," I say. "I'll track them down."

Mama doesn't reply. I glance at her rock. She's vanished too.


"Don't worry about me," says a white stork perched on the termite mound. "Get Soly and Iris to safety."

The sky is dark. There's a rumble in the distance.

I plunge into the grass. It's growing faster than I can think. In a blink, it's over my head. Where am I? I check the treetops. I used to know them all, but everything's mixed up. New trees are everywhere. I'm lost.

"Soly? Iris?"

A flash of lightning. The storm's closing in. There's a machete in my hand. I hack frantically at the grass. I hack and I hack and—I'm out of the bush, at the side of the road leading to Tiro. Soly and Iris are nearby, watching ants swarm a dung beetle.

"What took you so long?" Soly asks, with big innocent eyes.

"Don't ever run off again," I snap.

"We didn't run off," Iris taunts. "You lost us."

"Enough of your lip. We have to go."

Too late. Lightning strikes a nearby mango tree. Thunder booms. The sky falls. We're thrown to the ground. Raindrops the size of melons explode around us. We take cover in a hollow baobab tree, as children flood from the bush on either side. They stream down paths out of cattle posts. Pour onto the road, ahead and behind.

The storm lets up. But the children don't go home. They run toward Tiro.

A boy races by. "They're coming!"

Who's coming? Who? We try to run too, but we can't. The road is mud. We slip, fall, get up, slip, fall, get up. Everyone's gone. The sun goes down. We start to sink.

"Tiro," I scream. "We have to get to Tiro." But we can't move. We're up to our knees in mud.

Out of the night, a bush breaks to the right. A branch snaps to the left.

Soly and Iris cling to my waist. "It's them! They're here!"

Who are you? What do you want?

"Chanda! Wake up!" Esther shakes me.

I sit bolt upright on my mat. "Esther! What—?"

"Iris and Soly. They ran and got me. They said you cried out."

I see them cowering in the doorway. "It's all right," I say. "I'm fine."

"Are you possessed?" Soly asks in a little voice. "Iris says you're possessed." Iris pokes him. "Ow."

I glare at Iris. "Stop scaring your brother, Iris. I was just having a dream, and you know it. Now go back to bed."

Esther shoos them to their room. Thank god for Esther. We've been best friends since forever. When her parents died, Esther's family was scattered all over. She worked the streets for the money to get them back. One night, she got raped, her face slashed. I took her in. Now she lives with her own little brother and sister, Sammy and Magda, in two rooms off the side of our house. Mrs. Tafa, our next-door neighbor, says she's a bad influence. I don't care. She's Esther. If it weren't for her, I'd never have made it through Mama's funeral, or these past few months.

Esther returns, sits by my mat, and holds my hand. Under the light of the oil lamp, the scars from the attack cast shadows across her cheeks and chin. "It wasn't just a dream, was it?" she says. "It's the one about Tiro."

I look away.

Esther rubs my palm and takes a deep breath. "You used to get it every couple of weeks. Now it's almost every night. Chanda—"

"Don't say it."

"Why not? Pretending everything's fine won't it make it go away." She grips my hand tight. "Something's wrong. You need help. Somebody older. You know I don't like Mrs. Tafa. All the same, she was your mama's best friend. You should talk to her."

"No!" I yank my hand free. "Mrs. Tafa knows what happened to Mama. She'll try to bring in the spirit doctor."


"Mrs. Gulubane's a fake."

"Then talk to Mr. Selalame."

"I can't. He's Mr. Selalame! I'd feel strange."

Esther throws her arms in the air. "What's more important, your pride or Soly and Iris? Nightmares have a reason, Chanda. If you don't see Mr. Selalame, I'm going to Mrs. Tafa."

"Is that a threat?"

"Don't be mad. Please," Esther begs. "I'm your friend. And you're in trouble."


Excerpted from Chanda's Wars by Allan Stratton Copyright © 2008 by Allan Stratton. 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

Allan Stratton is the internationally acclaimed author of the Michael L. Printz Honor Book Chanda's Secrets. His novel Chanda's Wars was a Junior Library Guild selection, and his other novels, Borderline and Leslie's Journal, were both ALA Best Book for Young Adults selections. Allan has safaried in Africa, hiked the Great Wall of China, explored pyramids in Egypt, and flown over Cappadocia in a balloon. He lives with his partner in Toronto with four cats and a whole lot of fish.

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Chanda's Wars 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had such a strong connection with this book! Can be a little hard to get into but really takes you to the scene
Qioko More than 1 year ago
This book is about this girl named Chanda and her mom died and she was left alone to take care of her younger brother and sister. Soly and Iris. Her grand parents and older sister Lily and aunts and uncles lived in this town named Tiro. And her grandparents wanted them to visit so they did and while they were there they faced a lot of things... Awful things. Her baby brother and sister got kidnapped by this man named Mandaki and she had to got through a lot of things to get them back. With the help of her close friend Nelson. My favorite character is Nelson because he has a lot of skill and experience. Also because he is doing good in his life even though his dad, and brothers have died. I liked this book because it was very interesting and it pulls the reader in. Even though when i first read this book i thought it was boring but i kept reading and it pulled me on completely.
Zhamya Wills More than 1 year ago
This book has a great combination of bravery and compassion. Allan Stratton did a wonderful job with expressing the culture of Africa while showing how far someone would to save her family. Chanda goes through so much in the first book and has to go through alot more to save her two closet people she loves Iris and Soly. Step in the second world of Chanda Secrets
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
This fictional treatment of the genocide wars of Africa felt realistic. Though this is a sequel to CHANDA'S SECRETS, this story is a stand alone book. Through Stratton's vivid imagination, we follow Chanda and her small brother and sister as they travel to the next town to visit their grandparents and other relatives. Chanda's family wants her to marry Nelson, the son of a man who they wanted her mother to marry many years ago. Chanda is shocked, and adamant that she will not marry this boy. As Chanda and her siblings prepare to leave and return to their home, the rebel band of Mandiki attacks the village and kills her grandfather, among many other people, and kidnaps the children. Nelson's little brother was captured earlier and forced to be a guide to the bandits. Chanda swears that wherever the kids are, she will find them and rescue them. Nelson catches up with her and, together, they set out to find the rebels and save the children. Tracking the band is fraught with difficulties, including hard to follow tracks, crocodiles, and the African heat in the unforgiving bush country. The characters are likable and sympathetic, and Allan Stratton is a master at crafting a fast-paced plot that keeps you reading to the very satisfying end. It was altogether a very entertaining and captivating story. The end of the book contains an interview with the author, Nelson's recipe for biltong, "Sixteen Things I'll Never Forget" by the author, an excerpt from his next book, information on rewriting the end of CHANDA'S WARS, and a drawing by a child soldier.
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