Grade Level: 4-6 Age Level: 9-11 Listening Level: Grades 4-6
Meli Lleshi is positive that her drawing of her teacher with his pelican nose is what started it all. The Lleshis are Albanians living in Kosovo, a country trying to fight off Serbian oppressors. Suddenly, they are homeless refugees. As they travel the dangerous roads at night and leave burning farms and houses behind, young and old alike find their courage and resilience constantly tested. It is humiliating to have to live in crowded tent cities with hundreds of other displaced persons. If it weren’t for Mama and Baba’s efforts to keep the family together, who knows what would happen to them?
Then one day Baba makes a surprise announcement: they will all soon be going to a country far away. It will be a great adventure, he assures the family. There will be no more running from an enemy, and no turning back to their old way of life. But will they really find freedom at last? Meli wonders.