Hatchet in North Korea: A sister and brother go on the run with explosive forbidden photographs in this gripping and timely survival adventure.North Korea is known as the most repressive country on Earth, with a dictatorial leader, a starving population, and harsh punishment for rebellion.Not the best place for a family vacation.Yet that's exactly where Mia Andrews finds herself, on a tour with her aid-worker father and fractious older brother, Simon. Mia was adopted from South Korea as a baby, and the trip raises tough questions about where she really belongs. Then her dad is arrested for spying, just as forbidden photographs of North Korean slave-labor camps fall into Mia's hands. The only way to save Dad: get the pictures out of the country. Thus Mia and Simon set off on a harrowing journey to the border, without food, money, or shelter, in a land where anyone who sees them might turn them in, and getting caught could mean prison -- or worse.An exciting adventure that offers a rare glimpse into a compelling, complicated nation, In the Shadow of the Sun is an unforgettable novel of courage and survival.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
“Who in their right mind tries to bond with their kids by taking them on a tour of North Korea?” That’s the question siblings Mia and Simon ask when their father is taken captive and they stumble upon a cache of horrific photos the world needs to see. As her two young protagonists plan their impossible escape, author Anne Sibley O’Brien toggles among accounts of North Korean citizens who live in the distorted reality of an authoritarian regime. Showing that compassion can exist in the darkest of places, In the Shadow of the Sun is a timely, enlightening tale for young readers.
Twelve-year old Mia, adopted from South Korea and raised in Connecticut, has mixed feelings about her aid-worker father's decision to take her and her older brother, Simon, on a tour of North Korea. After arriving there, she further questions the reasons behind the trip after witnessing her father attend late-night rendezvous and discovering an illegal cell phone containing shocking photographs of conditions in the political prisons. When her father is arrested and held by the government, Mia and Simon must find a way to escape to China. Though Mia is initially unobtrusive and meek, she proves to be resourceful and determined under pressure, taking charge, navigating, scouting for sustenance, and using her knowledge of Korean language and culture. In her first novel, picture book author O'Brien (I'm New Here) presents a nuanced portrayal of North Korea; the government is restrictive and the police force divided, but the citizens' complex perspectives and attitudes are revealed in thoughtful, interspersed dispatches. Mia's reflections about being Korean in Connecticut versus in Korea are powerful, as is her assertion that she is "growing into both her names." Ages 8 12.