Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Spring 2013 Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Melanie Crowder
ISBN: 978-0-547-97651-8
Hardcover Price: $15.99

Set in a dystopian, arid countryside that seems to be a former African savannah, Parched is a story told in three voices. In occasional brevity, the voice is that of Nandi, a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog. Usually, the narrators are Musa, an abused boy who is held captive in a shed by gangsters because he is a gifted dowser, and Sarel, a girl whose parents were shot while she and Nandi were in the tall dry grass close to her home. The gang members who killed Sarel's parents were trying to find the secret to obtainable water that has enabled her family to keep a kennel of Ridgebacks and survive in a remote location. They missed the hidden steps far back on the property leading down into a grotto dug out by her grandfather where Sarel and her parents could pump water into a catchment basin.

These same gang members from the remnants of a town regularly unchain Musa and give him dowser sticks to locate water. The increasing futility of their search his captors unwisely to venture close to the territory of a rival gang. When fighting breaks out, Musa flees. On the run, his true sense of underground water finally leads him to Sarel's property where he senses an underground lake. The grief-stricken Sarel is preparing to leave with her dogs because her pump has finally run dry. While she doesn't believe Musa's story of an underground lake, she stays long enough for the children to again become the target of the vicious gangsters.

Using the voice of the dog while Sarel observes her parents being killed, the author wisely gives a needed distance to a horrific scene. With a calm underlying tone, she draws the reader into the suffering of two appealing children who not only survive, they overcome. Parched is thoroughly original and exciting.

Kemie Nix   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children's Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents' Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

Look for this product at:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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