In this picture book companion to the bestseller A Long Walk to Water, a young South Sudanese girl goes on a journey that requires determination, persistence, and compassion.
Young Nya takes little sister Akeer along on the two-hour walk to fetch water for the family. But Akeer becomes too ill to walk, and Nya faces the impossible: her sister and the full water vessel together are too heavy to carry. As she struggles, she discovers that if she manages to take one step, then another, she can reach home and Mama’s care. Bold, impressionistic paintings by Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brian Pinkney evoke the dry, barren landscape and the tenderness between the two sisters. An afterword discusses the process of providing clean water in South Sudan to reduce waterborne illness.
Newbery Medalist Park takes a character from her 2010 novel, A Long Walk to Water, and tells her story in a new format. Nya, a South Sudanese girl, must fetch water for her family from a distant well. Coretta Scott King Award winner Pinkney paints Nya steadying her can with one hand and reaching for her younger sister Akeer with the other. On the way home, Akeer collapses, ill, and Nya must carry both her sibling and their water "at least half a morning's walk" back home. Pinkney follows their intense journey across broad spreads, tracing the scrabbly vegetation with loose lines and the sand with swirls of sepia and gold. When she finally makes it home, Nya discovers that her ordeal isn't over, and she must accompany Mama and Akeer to a clinic a couple of days' walk away. In the end, the earlier book's real-life hero, Salva Dut, drills a well for Nya's community, lessening the occurrence of waterborne disease. With compassion, the creators present younger readers with a portrait of a life in which determination is needed just to get enough clean water to drink, a reality for many villagers in South Sudan. Ages 4 7.