THE WONDERS OF MOTHER NATURE
Time to check out some more of those creatures that share our planet.
Rida is caught between two cultures. She is the only Muslim girl at her school, and she wears glasses and a hijab. She also loves books so is classed as a nerd by her peers. This mixture leaves her open to ridicule, emotional and physical bullying, which she is afraid to report. It also sees her isolated from the rest of the students.
Then she meets Ky, a Cambodian refugee who also loves books. At last Rida has a friend.
On a day when her two tormentors are pursuing her, she runs into a house where an old man is tending his garden. This rose garden becomes a haven; somewhere she can hide from the bullies, read and feel safe until she can get home. The man will also play a significant role in Rida’s future.
It seems she’s always running – to get away from bullies, to get to safety, or to reach home. When Mr Conan the sports master asks her to run in the inter school sports, she accepts. She learns that Ky has leukaemia and is seriously ill.
Rida has tried to fit in at school; not be so nerdy. She stops reading during recess, becomes a part-timer in not wearing her hijab during school hours. If she wins the race, will people like her more? Or will that be one more reason to dislike her?
Inspired by Ky’s presence and despite her grave illness, Rida wins the 400 metres and the relay wearing her hijab. Their school gets the trophy, and all the differences that were obstacles disappear. She is now one of them and the school’s hero with respect and acceptance.
This poignant and inspiring novella, Clancy Tucker’s first short novel, uses the backstory and generous dialogue as a gateway into awareness about the lives of refugees. The reasons they embark on treacherous journeys to reach a safe country and a possible future without fear and threat of death are told through the children’s voice and experiences. It also focuses on the endless possibilities for children’s lives, no matter what their origins, to be turned around when opportunity is made available to them.
Other themes, and there are many in this excellent story, cover cancer in children, hope, kindness and love, family unity, and how people are more than their external appearance or specific beliefs.
Clancy's comment: Amazing critters, eh? And, thank you for a great review, Anastasia.
Love ya work!