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Smuggled by Angela Karanja is the story of Tuliana, a fourteen-year-old orphan from Kenya, who finds herself trapped in a world of human trafficking. Barely remembering her mother from childhood, Tuliana grew up never having a home of her own or a sense of stability. Then, one morning, she finds herself on a plane with a group of kids and has no idea where she’s going. When they arrive in London, Tuliana is separated from the kids and whisked away in a stranger’s car, which marks the beginning of her new life.

Terrified of her new life and unaware of her fate, Tuliana hangs on to what she remembers: Jonathan, a friend she made on the plane. He becomes her anchor in a way she would have never imagined and vows to find her. As she moves from one home to another, she is treated differently in each setting, though she is always a servant (slave). She later realizes that she’s a victim of human trafficking. Jonathan realized Tuliana was a victim of something uncanny as soon as she was snatched and began to investigate her whereabouts, concerned for his friend.

This emotional book does a fantastic job of diving into the bleak and often invisible lives of children and people who are victims of human trafficking. It’s a tragic reality that we often don’t associate with the modern world. The author brings the real story of one girl, who represents many children globally who fall prey to smuggling and slavery. Karanja carefully explores children’s different perspectives and trauma experiences during this process. Tuliana is a great character who displays great strength, intelligence, and resilience in her life.

I highly recommend Smuggled by Angela Karanja for the humanity it gives victims and survivors of human trafficking. It’s a great story about an important topic that deserves more attention on a local and global scale.

Pages: 189 | ASIN : B0BB1VZ4JG

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A Calf Named Brian Higgins

A Calf Named Brian Higgins, written by Kristen Ball, is a child-friendly story that addresses serious and interesting topics, including poverty, different cultures, friendship, mourning death, and personal development. The story follows Hannah Higgins, a typical grumpy teenager from suburban New York who is dragged to the plains of rural Kenya to visit her Uncle, Brian Higgins, while he is there doing charity work. Leaving behind her comfortable American lifestyle for one that is drastically less comfortable poses many challenges that Hannah needs to overcome, such as limited access to fresh water. By spending time with the local people and being immersed in the culture, she slowly understands why her Uncle loves Sauri so much.

This story answers a couple of important questions. How would a typical white teenager react to going into rural Africa? And what does it take for that teenager to change their perspective on their life? Ball tackles both of these questions in a way that is simple enough for children to understand but sophisticated enough for all ages to appreciate. This is a story of personal growth. Hannah goes from a naive and unworldly teenager to an individual who begins to value her life, others around her, and opportunities wholeheartedly.

Ball’s debut novel was written based on her experiences of being the first westerner to live in Sauri, the Kenyan village where her story is set. Therefore the book touches on many of her first-hand experiences, enabling her to paint a far more vivid and authentic landscape of an environment many Westerners (especially children) are likely not to be familiar with. Ball’s spin on the story’s events helps to give the story a more genuine and sincere feel. The reader is not being presented with a shallow story from someone with limited knowledge of these complex topics. Still, they’re experiencing the insight of someone who lived under these circumstances.

A Calf Named Brian Higgins is a fantastic novel to introduce children to heavy and challenging topics, such as poverty or entitlement, in a simple and engaging way. It’s essential for children to be exposed to several cultures and walks of life, and reading this novel with them and discussing it would be a great starting point.

Pages: 272 | ASIN : B07DNKC7G4

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