In this short middle grade novel, we follow Meli Lleshi, an ethnic Albanian in Kosovo, as she and her relatives live in fear of Milosevic and his Serbian army, eventually becoming refugees and finally making their way to a new life in Vermont.
Paterson, known best for Newberry winning books BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and JACOB I HAVE LOVED, is not afraid to tackle difficult topics like war and death, though the more horrific realities of war are muted here. Her skill and experience in crafting three dimensional characters we come to care about is evident, and the Lleshi family’s story is an important one that children certainly need to hear.
But I do wonder if this book has an audience beyond required reading lists. There is nothing really compelling in the story that might appeal to a book buying or library going 10-14 yr old reader or that even differentiates it from other war/hardship/refugee tales (not that I know of any others for this age group).
THE DAY OF THE PELICAN comes out October 19th in hardcover.