A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Kids will learn about the human rights issue of access to clean drinking water.
Be kind and understanding with your siblings. You can do things you thought were impossible. Take challenges one step at a time. Encourage yourself.
Positive Role Models
Nya is a relatable main character (annoyed at little sister). Her later compassion, perseverance, and willingness to help her mother despite her exhaustion are deeply admirable. All characters are black Africans from South Sudan. A former refugee builds a well in the sisters’ village.
Violence & Scariness
Nothing violent, but the sister’s sudden illness and the long, hard walk back to the village are suspenseful and could be scary, especially for younger kids.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nya’s Long Walk: A Step at a Time by Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park, illustrated by award-winning Brian Pinkney, is a picture book companion to her middle grade novel A Long Walk to Water. This story follows Nya, a character from the novel, and her sister Akeer on their hours-long walk to and from a water hole. Akeer becomes sick and Nya must figure out how to get the water and her sister home. The journey back to the village spans several suspenseful pages, and very young and sensitive readers might fear for Akeer’s well-being. Kids will learn about the importance of clean water access and see compassion and perseverance in action. Nya is a fantastic role model. She’s a devoted and responsible sister worthy of much admiration. An endnote cleverly disguised as the conclusion wraps up the sisters’ story, describes how the South Sudanese are working to increase access to clean drinking water and what it means for girls like these to have clean water in their villages.
Is It Any Good?
This beautiful picture book has a compelling story and evocative illustrations. Bold colors and expressive faces reflect the bond the sisters share. Brian Pinkney's expansive, impressionistic paintings of the parched dessert landscape add tension to the slow progress Nya makes on the way home. The straightforward text matches the urgency of this story, and just a few pages in, readers will be rooting for Nya to make it home and for Akeer to recover from her illness. The ending surpasses “happy” to meaningful; it’s a satisfying conclusion that ties the fictional story into the real-life issues the book covers. Adults will have many avenues to extend conversation and learning after reading this book. The positive representations of the strength and self-sufficiency of the South Sudanese make Nya's Long Walk: A Step at a Time a welcome addition to any kid’s library.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.