A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story

by Linda Sue Park

Paperback, 2010


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Call number

J Pa


HMH Books for Young Readers (2011), Edition: Reprint, 128 pages


When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, eleven-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan.

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User reviews

LibraryThing member Erika.D
This is a great story. It was emotional, sad, shocking, uplifting, inspiring and well written. It tells the story of one of Sudan's Lost Boys. We follow his story from age 11 to present day. There is another character as well that ties in nicely with the boy, Salva's story. The ending was a warming
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surprise. I am so glad I read this book. Couldn't put it down so I read it in one day. I highly recommend this title.
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LibraryThing member nased
Thank you Linda Sue Park for introducing Salva Dut. His journey is amazing and he is a role model for all of us. Nya's story made an impact with my children when they realized her entire day was an effort to fetch water or return it home. Questions like, "Why would she walk that far for dirty
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water?" and "When does she do her homework and other stuff?" led us towards looking for more information about life in southern Sudan.
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LibraryThing member lindamamak
Wonderful account of a young man whose life was destroyed by the wars in the Sudan in the early 90's. Whose life was completely changed when he was educated in the United States and was able to Pay if Forward and help his country later in life.
LibraryThing member phh333
This story is based on real events that took place in Sudan. It is told in two voices and two different time periods. Salva starts his story in 1985 when the war in Sudan was just reacing his village in Southern Sudan. Nya's story takes place in 2008. Salva's story is the story of one of the "Lost
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Boys" who escaped the war by traveling miles to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. Nya's story is the story of water - how its scarcity ruled the lives of those in her village.
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LibraryThing member jubook
Great story on the harsh realities of Africa and their civil war. It is a reminder that we are protected in North America from hunger, war, drought, and brutality.
LibraryThing member Leov
Based on the true story of Salva Dut. Eleven year old Salva is living with his family in the village of Loun-Ariik, in Sudan, Africa, going to school, having fun with his brothers, when the fighting that was going on in some parts of the country suddenly erupted in his village. "Run into the bush"
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his teacher told them, and Salva begins a long walk to find safety, a walk that costs a number of those walking with him their lives. Not far away a young girl, Nya, also walks in the heat to get water for her family. This takes her all morning. After a little food and rest, Nya has to do this trip again, every day it is the same, week after week, month after month.
This well written book is a wonderful glimpse of the lives that some children have to deal with. While it is tragic, it is a story of hope and growth without being preachy and I would recommend this to any one 10 years and over, and especially as a class read aloud book. The end has a lovely twist.
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LibraryThing member jothom
I really wanted to like this book but was very disappointed. The subject is of course extremely worthy and I was looking forward to recommending this book to year 7 students at school. There was so much potential in this book but it just left me feeling frustrated. Ultimately, I think it is a
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journalistic work rather than a literary one.
I got interested in Salva and his story immediately, but so much was left out. Surely we underestimate kids if we think they only need the facts in brief. Other characters were sketchily drawn in their lighning appearances in the story. Where is the dialogue that does more than anything to bring characters alive? There is minimal dialogue in this novel. There is some attempt to draw Salva as a character, but it left me wanting more. And what about the fascinating story of the 1500 Sudanese boys who took a year and a half to reach the refugee camps in Kenya? It's mentioned almost as an aside in Salva's life, barely a few lines.
I liked the dual storyline between Salva's and Nya's stories, but once again I wanted more about Nya. I did not find that I engaged with the characters.
The characters did not have a voice.
I wish Deborah Ellis had written this story.
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LibraryThing member KimReadingLog
This book made me cry! A quick read that exposes young readers to the story of the lost boys (Sudanese refugees) and an inspirational tale about the hope found in the form of a well.
LibraryThing member rwilliamson
This motivational piece of historical fiction tells the story of 11 year old Salva, Dut, one of “Sudan’s lost boys”, as he walks to safety fleeing Civil War in 1985 and again in 1991 when refugees were forced back into Sudan. Salva’s story is juxtaposed with the 2008 story of Nya. The Civil
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War is over but a fictional character Nya lives in an area of Sudan with no running water. She spends hours each day walking through the bush to a watering hole. As a teenager, Salva comes to America where he resumes his education and eventually learns that his father has survived. Visiting his father Salva is struck by the lack of clean water. He ultimately starts a foundation that has provided 104 water wells for South Sudan. One of wells is in Nya’s village thus the adult Salva and 11 year old Nya meet. Clean water will change her life, freed from the need to seek water, the elders in her village plan to build a school. The writing style is spare yet moving. I’m working with a 5th grade teacher to write a lesson plan using Long Walk to Water and the picture book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba as the basis of a 5th grade service project at my school this year. Our plans are still rough but we would like to read these two books, and participate in the water challenge.
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LibraryThing member skstiles612
I love reading books that are based on real events. This is the story of two people from two different time periods, whose lives cross paths. The story of these two people is told in alternating chapters.

Sudan has always been a hotbed of controversy and war. Innocent people are constantly caught in
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the crossfire. The majority of them are children. Salva Dut, eleven years old, is one of those children. They become known as the “Lost Boys”. It is the 1980’s and he is at school when his village comes under attack. The teacher hears the gunfire and sends the children running into the forest. They travel across the desert to a refuge camp in Ethiopia. After an extended stay they once again cross the desert to Kenya. Many of them don’t make it. They die of hunger, animal attacks, and attacks from soldiers. Once in Kenya Salva begins to learn some English. He is one of many chosen to travel to America to live with an adoptive family.

The other character in this book is Nya and takes place in 2008. She like many other young people don’t go to school. She spends her day traveling several hours each way to bring water home to her family. She must do this in the morning and in the afternoon. She and Salva both lived in Sudan but in separate tribes that don’t get along. It is her tribe that attacked his village many years before.

It is after Salva graduates that things in his country are affected by his actions. He and Nya meet and the reader sees how their paths have crossed and why it is important. I will be using this book in my classroom this year and I absolutely can’t wait for my students to read it. This is a must read for anyone interested in learning what happens outside their own home. It causes us to look at how lucky we are to live here in the United States.
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LibraryThing member Sullywriter
Surprisingly slim but poignant story based upon the true experiences of a "lost boy" of Sudan.
LibraryThing member librarybrandy
A little slow to get going, but covers an event that doesn't get much coverage in schools. A good choice for the middle school curriculum, though I don't see a ton of kids picking this up by choice.
LibraryThing member lindap69
I am a big fan of Linda Sue Park and I loved this book. Park does an amazing job of telling story through the ordinary events and yet making it so powerful.
LibraryThing member Yona
This comment is no more spoilery than the synopsis for the book. But if you haven't read the synopsis yet then skip this comment AND the synopsis and just read the book first. I consider myself lucky to have started the book without having a clue as to a certain aspect of it's content.

As an
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author's rendition of the true personal account of Salva Dut this easily made it to four stars for me. The fifth star comes from the way in which Ms. Park developed the alternating account of Nya and the masterful way in which she brought the two accounts together, especially toward the conclusion of the book. It's not that the convergence of the two accounts was so surprising but the pace and manner in which they were brought together was, for me, very powerful.
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LibraryThing member ewyatt
An accessible, powerful book about Salva Dut's journey as a Lost Boy, displaced when civil war came to his village in 1985. Separated from his family, Salva walks and walks across the country to Ethiopia to find safety and suffers plenty. Salva's story and the story of a girl living in South Sudan
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now are intermingled. Salva's survival and decision to start a nonprofit to bring clean water to those in the Sudan brings the two stories together.
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LibraryThing member Jquimbey
Special features include a message from Salva Dut, whose life the story is based on and an author's note telling how she met Salva and giving more insight into the conflict described in the story. The recommended age group for this book is 10-12. However, I think this would be appropriate for
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high-school libraries as well, as it gives perspective on the conflict in Sudan, which would most likely be studied in a middle or high school World Geography or history class. I really enjoyed it as an adult. It was an easy, short read, yet powerful.
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LibraryThing member prkcs
When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, eleven-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in
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1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan.
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LibraryThing member JennB15
A beautifully written story with two separate narratives united by a common theme that hard times can be overcome by taking life one step at a time.
LibraryThing member JaredT.B1
A Long Walk To Water is about a boy named Salva Dut and a girl named Nya. Salva's story takes place in 1985-2009 mainly during the civil war in Sudan. Nya's story takes place from 2008-2009.

Salva Dut's story starts in his village of Loun Ariik. But his life changes when soldiers invade his town
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and the soldiers are taking young men for the army. Salva fled the village with 15 or more people and the group had begun the walk across the desert to Kenya. Along the way he finds his uncle who was leading the group of hundreds. While they took a break another village killed his uncle leaving Salva to lead the group. The group had finally made it to a camp in Ethiopia where Salva stayed in for 6 years. The Ethiopian government closed down the camp forcing Salva to begin another long walk. Salva led another group known as the lost boys of Sudan. Salva finally made it to another refugee camp in Kenya which took a year and a half to get to. Salva spent 5 years here until it was announced that 3,000 out of 100,000 were able to go to America. 6 years later Salva received an email from his cousin who said that Salva's father was still alive in a hospital. Salva then came back to America and created a foundation called Water For Sudan. This group helps build wells for villages in need of water.

Nya's story is about how she has to walk 8 hours a day to get water for her family. Nya never went to school because only boys can. Nya's sister Akeer gets sick by the muddy water but the nearest hospital was 300 miles away. Luckily a man organizes a program raise money to build a well in her village. Meaning once the well is built she'll be able to go to school. The man is suppose to be Salva but in reality Nya's story is fictional but Salva's is true.

Awesome book
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LibraryThing member JMBridger
Based on a true story, author Linda Sue Park follows the life of a young boy from Sudan who is forced to flee from his home and family when rebels attack. This is a story of struggle, persistence, and determination. Written in parallel, is the story a young girl from Sudan who must travel a great
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distance daily to collect water from an ever-diminishing pond.
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LibraryThing member vanessa.wallace
A wonderful depiction of the life of a boy who was pushed off his homeland and then forced to walk hundreds of miles from Sudan to Ethiopia and again from Ethiopia to Kenya. The horrific events that the boy witnesses and how he grows and learns along the way is amazing and very well written. This
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is a must read for anybody.
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LibraryThing member Lindsay_W
Based on the real-life experience of one of Sudan’s Lost Boys, Park tells the harrowing story of Salva Dut who, in 1985 at only 11 years old, escaped soldiers in Sudan, and spent ten years in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. Dut credits his sense of hope and perseverance for keeping him alive
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all those years and for giving him the courage to carry on until he was sent to a family in America. Dut returned to Sudan in the mid 2000s, to give back to his homeland in the form of “Water for South Sudan” a non-profit organization that provides wells for Sudanese villages. One of these villages is the setting for the second narrative in this novel in which a young girl’s life is changed by the well provided by Dut’s organization.
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LibraryThing member mtome
Inspiring story! Loved the way we feel we are there with Salva every step of the journey.
LibraryThing member Adrian.Gaytan
This is a story based on true story. The book is written with two stories occurring relatively around the same time and same are of the world. Salva is young boy that flees war stricken Sudan loosing contact with his family and village. He has to fend for himself as a young boy and with some luck
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and determinism finds his way back to uncle and refugee camp. Never loosing hope to be with family he develops relationship humanitarian aid worker and invited to go to America. And he is eager to find family or help his war torn country.
The other story within the book is about Nya of Nue village describes how she takes part traveling distances to fetch water for her family and village. She recounts of how strangers came to her village to do construction with great metal "animals", and digging holes that would help get them water. Nya is not impressed or believes this will be done. She is having doubts about her role as the daughter of the village leader.
Without giving away the end these two stories intertwine with a good surprise at end.
Some topics to discuss: immigration, boy soldiers, role of women, education, language acquisition, humanitarian aide, involvement, GANGS
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LibraryThing member jilldavis
Engaging ture story paralleled with a fictin narrative that tells the details of a young boy to young man's heartbreaking journey and ultimate survial; uplifting with possitive messages that are not politically tinged; gives young readers a starting point for participating in a global cause


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Original publication date


Physical description

128 p.; 7.62 inches


0547577311 / 9780547577319




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