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Chanda's Wars

by Allan Stratton

Published by HarperTeen / HarperCollins, 2008
384 pages
ISBN: 9780060872625

Ages 12-15

Chanda, a teenager living in an unnamed sub-Saharan African country, is the sole caretaker for her younger sister, Iris, age 6, and her brother, Soly, age 5. Her mother died six months earlier from AIDS, and Chanda promised her she would take care of them. When Iris and Soly are kidnapped during a rebel raid, Chanda feels she must keep her promise to her mother, so she and another teenager, Nelson, go on a dangerous quest to track the rebels and rescue the children. Allan Stratton’s sequel to Chanda’s Secrets (Annick Press, 2004) touches on the complex politics and economics that leaves the government of Chanda’s country turning a blind eye as some its youngest citizens are kidnapped by guerilla armies for use as soldiers and slaves. Chanda and Nelson know the odds are they will die trying to save the children, but they also know they have to try. Stratton’s detailed author’s note positions him as a knowledgable writer about human rights issues in African nations, including the horrifying reality of children who are brutalized and turned into soldiers. His choice to make the setting a fictional rather than real African nation is almost certainly one that protects real people while reflecting a truth that crosses geographic borders. The outcome for the characters in his story is a hopeful one, despite the trauma they endure.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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