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  • Title: [SW Country] (The Kids Network) Siad of Somalia (Siad of Somalie)
  • Posted by/on:[AMJ][Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2000]

CM . . . . Volume IV Number 19 . . . . May 22, 1998

 
Siad of Somalia. (Siad de Somalie)

Harvey Smith. Edited by Elaine Armstrong.
Brampton, ON: The Kids Netword (Distributed by Reed Books Canada), 1997.
62 pp, paperback, $4.99.
ISBN 0-929137-46-9 (English), 0-929137-47-7 (French)

Grades 4 - 9 / Ages 9 - 14.
Review by Joan Payzant.

*** /4

 

excerpt:

 

That afternoon, Siad and his mother were eating by a shady tree. There was activity all around as soldiers and workers organized to erect several large tents similar to the ones they slept in. As he ate, Siad watched the men curiously. These tents would provide shelter. Siad was relieved to know this because he knew his mother was tired of searching for shade every day. Siad saw two Canadian peacekeepers and an interpreter making their way toward them. They came to question Siad's mother. She asked about her husband and was eventually told that he was alive and fighting for the warlord Ali Mahdi Mohammed. Siad learned that American soldiers had recently disarmed many of these men, and they were being returned to Mogadishu. This was almost more than Siad could have hoped for! Finally, they had news of his father, and a real hope that he would return soon.
Harvey Smith first wrote this story when he was in grade six in St. Bernard's on the south coast of Newfoundland. His teacher recommended that he enter it in "The Prism Awards," a program for young writers. The judges chose it as a winner in the war and peace category, and its author was assigned an editor who worked with him to polish the story for publication.

      The theme of the book shifts back and forth between the experience of a young Canadian peacekeeping soldier, Private Merrick Flynn, and Siad, a 12-year-old boy in Mogadishu, who, with his mother and baby brother, slept on the ground in the shade (if they were fortunate enough to find such a spot) near the food compound which was locked and only opened once a day. They stood in a long queue for hours until finally they received their ration of Unimix - corn, beans and vegetable oil ladled into hollow gourds. Said's baby brother, Sayyid, was very ill, and did not survive.

      Private Flynn's arrival in Mogadishu is described well. A young soldier and afraid of the unknown tasks he would be required to take on, he is horrified at the sights he sees - the crowds of starving people with no hope in their eyes. But he resolves to do whatever he can to help, and, even when his worst nightmare comes true - having to confront armed thieves trying to break into the food compound - he survives the ordeal. Returning to Canada after completing his tour of duty, he thinks with great sadness of the suffering he has seen, but knows that he and his fellow soldiers have made a difference by bringing relief to many families.

      Siad of Somalia is well written and should be in all school libraries to give Canadian children a view of our peacekeepers' responsibilities and the conditions they face in a strange, hot country where guns, instead of democracy, rule the land.

      This programme, "The Kids Netword," is a worthwhile venture, and it would be superb to see many more such stories published, thereby giving encouragement and experience to talented young writers.

Recommended.

Joan Payzant is a retired school librarian in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@mts.net.

Copyright 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - MAY 22, 1998.

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