Melanie Crowder’s debut novel Parched is stunning, haunting and, in the end, hopeful. The prose is just as spare as the setting–an unnamed swath of Africa that has been struck by extreme drought. The story opens and ends with brief chapters that are narrated by main character Sarel’s dog, Nandi. In between, this story is told at times by Sarel, at times by Nandi, and at times by Musa, a boy with a gift for finding water who has escaped from an abusive gang who try to profit from Musa’s special gift.
Publisher’s description: In this haunting, lyrical novel told from three perspectives, Sarel has just witnessed the violent murder of her parents. But she is not completely alone on the drought-ridden land.
Nandi is the leader of a pack of dogs who looks out for her pups and for skinny Sarel-girl. Nandi knows they are all in trouble, and she knows, too, that a boy is coming—an escaped prisoner with the water song inside him. A hard-hitting but ultimately hopeful survival story.
Biblio Links: Welcome, Melanie!
A student walks into my library and I think: That kid needs a copy of PARCHED. Who is this kid?
Melanie: He or she is probably a pensive kid, a thinking reader with a big heart. PARCHED is a slim volume, so it may appeal to reluctant readers and English Language Learners as well.
Biblio Links: As a former ESL teacher I agree with that last suggestion! It’s often hard to find stories that have themes that older readers want to explore, yet have text that is accessible to a wide range of readers. Parched will definitely spark some interesting discussion for a wide range of readers.
If we were to peek into a classroom where a teacher is using your book in a lesson or with a small group, what might we see or hear?
Melanie: You might see kids experimenting with the narrative voices of different animals, or describing their classroom through Nandi’s eyes. You might see them consulting encyclopedias or online resources to complete the PARCHED field guide (coming soon–check my website this fall). Perhaps a small group is preparing a report for the class on water as a resource and how its scarcity or quality affects people in different parts of the world. And the teacher is probably consulting the discussion guide found here.
Biblio Links: Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?
Hand this book to the kid who:
* enjoys survival stories,
* has lost a loved one,
* is concerned about/interested in environmental issues, or
* loves dog stories.
Use this to teach:
* Points of view–This story is told from three points of view: Sarel, a girl who has just lost her parents and must keep her dogs (and herself) alive; Musa, the boy with the gift of finding buried water sources, and Nandi, Sarel’s trusted canine friend. How might certain scenes in the story be told from other points of view–not just one of the other three main characters, but what about the band of thugs who kidnapped Musa? How about Musa’s brother?
* Earth Day--Parched would pair beautifully with Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water and Mindy McGinnis’ Not A Drop to Drink (a young adult novel coming in September 2013). Display these books in the months of March and April and launch a book talk/discussion on Earth Day, April 22.
*Types of Conflict— Lots of examples to choose from in this story–character vs. character (human and canine), self, society, and nature.
Curriculum Guide here
The Nitty Gritty~
Click here for glowing reviews from the likes of Kathi Appelt, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Franny Billingsly.
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Number of Pages: 160
Reading Level: 5.4
Interest Level: Ages 10 and up