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Groundwood Books

Lost Girl Found

Written by Leah Bassoff • Written by Laura DeLuca

For kids 13 years old | Published January 24, 2014 | ISBN 9781554984183
YOUNG ADULT FICTION / People & Places / Africa

Cover of Lost Girl Found

Regular price $9.95 CAD

216 pages
Digital Format

Also Available in Print

About this book

Lost Girl Found

Leah Bassoff • Laura DeLuca

For Poni, life in her small village in southern Sudan is simple and complicated at the same time. Stay in school. Beat up any boy who tries to show attention. Watch out for the dangers in the river.

But then the war comes. And when soldiers arrive in her village, and bombs begin to rain from the sky, there is only one thing for Poni to do. Run. Run for her life.

Poni does run from the bombs, and though many of the villagers do not escape, she does. An unknown man carries her across the river in the dark, and then she is walking — a long, dusty trek across the east African countryside with thousands of refugees. Along the way, many die from starvation, land mines, wild animals and despair, but Poni does not, driven by the sheer will to survive and the hope that she can somehow make it to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, and one day be reunited with her family.

She does make it to Kakuma, where she is almost overwhelmed by misery that surrounds her. Only Lokure, a boy from her village, can give her the emotional and intellectual sustenance that she craves as much as food. But when her foster mother makes plans to exchange her in marriage for a meager dowry, Poni realizes that she must leave the camp at any cost. Her destination is a compound in Nairobi run by the strict Sister Hannah. There, if she is lucky, she will be able to continue her education and even, one day, convince authorities that she is worthy to go to the land of opportunity called America.

Even more than the dramatic events of the story, it is Poni’s frank and single-minded personality that carries this novel. She is willing to do whatever it takes to live, but she certainly doesn’t escape survivor’s guilt. In a heartbreaking final twist, she finds her mother just as she is about to leave for the US, and must make the hardest decision of all.

About the Creators

Leah Bassoff

Leah Bassoff is a writer and middle-school teacher and a former assistant editor at Penguin. She has written for Denver Voice and The Coloradan. She lives in Denver. Visit Leah's website: http://leahjbassoff.com/

Laura DeLuca

Laura DeLuca teaches anthropology at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She has done extensive fieldwork in East Africa and has written articles on her experiences with Sudanese refugees in Anthropology News, Anthropology Matters and Journal of Refugee Studies. She lives in Denver.

Awards and Praise
Readers will come away with clear pictures of gender roles in Poni’s culture as well as the South Sudan conflict’s devastating physical and psychological effects. . . . Moving and necessary.
  • Commended An ALA Notable Children's Book, 2015
  • Commended USBBY Outstanding International Book, 2015
  • Winner Colorado Book Award for Young Adult Literature, 2015
  • Winner Parents' Choice Award for Fiction (Gold), 2014