Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
- Reading age: 9 to 12
Twelve-year-old Astrid has come to Ghana with her family in 1979 so that her father can help oversee Ghana’s first democratic election. Astrid and her brother, Gordo, were told it would be a great family adventure, but they soon find out that everything about Ghana is difficult—the heat, the food, the threat of disease, the soldiers on the roads, the schools. Gordo fits in more easily than Astrid, who is often left to look after her baby sister, Piper, as their mother begins to fall apart under the strain of living in Ghana. When the government is overthrown, Gordo comes down with malaria and a soldier threatens her family, Astrid is surprised to discover how protective she has become of her new home.
About the author
Kari Jones is happy to call Victoria, British Columbia, home: a city where you can go down to the beach with your kayak, find an island, a lighthouse and an adventure, and be back in time for dinner. Kari is a college instructor who teaches students to write, but when school is out, she can often be found with her family and friends exploring the natural world and dreaming up adventures to share. Kari is the co-author of Hiking Adventures with Children as well as several essays and articles on being in nature with kids. For more information, visit www.karijones.ca.
- Short-listed, Hackmatack Children's Choice Award nominee
- Commended, CCBC Best Books
- Commended, Junior Library Guild selection
"Scenes filled with tension, including one in which a soldier takes away their mother’s purse, make the story gripping to middle grade readers. This is a great book for understanding another culture and the struggles of a nation."
Reading Today Online
"[A] thought-provoking historical fiction novel...Astrid demonstrates kindness and courage in the face of the political and social backdrop surrounding the Ghanaian community."
The Dragon Lode
"Astrid is a strong and courageous female character who takes on the role of being a responsible and caring older sibling to Gordo and Piper...Jones’ story provides readers with an emotionally captivating look into a family’s anxieties as the unit transitions to life in a new country... [and] richly depicts Astrid’s strength and commitment to her family as they endure stress and battle sickness and fear...The book educates readers about a family’s emotional situation and social conditions surrounding life in 1979 in Ghana...[and] provides educators the opportunity to have active discussions with their students about the integral role which government, elections, democracy, and freedom play in society. Highly Recommended."
"The social backdrop of the story provides an interesting counterpoint to this coming-of-age story...The sights and sounds of the city are vividly conveyed and the expatriate experience is thoughtfully rendered."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"Astrid is an honorable character for whom readers will root."
School Library Journal
"A convincing example of how social fear can invade the home—no matter where that home might be."
"Astrid, her younger brother, and her friend Thema are well-developed young characters, and the relationships Ghanaians have with each other and Astrid’s family are compelling. Astrid’s first-person narration is appropriately childlike, and her youthful perspective is a concise, honest glimpse into an event relatively unknown in the U.S."
"A thought-provoking study of a family caught up in both political and domestic crises in a foreign land."
"The political context for the story would be of interest to students learning about African history, or for anyone wanting to learn about recent changes in countries in Africa. Astrid is an interesting character because of how strong she is in the face of difficulties at home with her mother, and managing her siblings and friends. There are multiple ways of looking at and enjoying this book."