Sunday, February 13, 2011
A Hare in the Elephant's Trunk by Jan Coates
Eight year old Jacob Akech Deng is like all the other children in his small village of Duk Padiet in Southern Sudan. He loves his family and playing soccer, he wants to be just like his uncle when he grows up and above all else, he dreads going to school. Jacob would much rather be outside playing and looking after the animals and he constantly informs his mother of this.
The story takes a turn when soldiers come to his village one night- shooting, killing and setting fires. Thus Jacob’s peaceful life is ended. He is separated from his mother and sister and he finds himself marching through Sudan towards Ethiopia in hopes of making it to a refugee camp and safety. Along the way, Jacob relies on other young boys making the same trek through the hot desert. Jacob thinks constantly of his mother and finds strength in her wish that he gain an education in order to change life for the Sudanese people.
At the refugee camp, life isn’t what the boys hope it will be. Living in a small space they are surrounded by many children without adults to guide them, teach them and in some cases control them. Yet it is here that Jacob is able to begin to fulfill his mother’s wish that he receive an education. He develops a special relationship with his teacher that gives him strength to fight against the other boys’ only expectation that he join the army and fight for Sudan.
Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk is a story inspired by one of the ‘Lost Boys’ of Sudan. It will introduce young readers to a country at war and the devastating effects war can have on the youth. This book would be best for mature readers and it will require discussion, reflection and possibly some research. The author is donating proceeds from the sale of this book to Jacob’s charity, Wadeng Wings of Hope (www.wadeng.org)