They call Gabriela Tree Girl.
Laj Ali Re Jayub in her native language of Quiché. Gabi climbs trees to be within reach of the eagles and watch the sun rise into an empty sky. She is at home among the outstretched branches of the Guatemalan forests.
Then one day from the safety of a tree, Gabi witnesses the sights and sounds of an unspeakable massacre. She sees rape and murder -- the ravages of guerrilla warfare. She vows to be Tree Girl no more.
Earthbound, she joins the hordes of refugees struggling to reach the Mexican border. She has lost her whole family; her entire village has been wiped out. Yet she clings to the hope that she will be reunited with her youngest sister, Alicia. Over dangerous miles and months of hunger, thirst, and the threat of more violence from soldiers, Gabriela’s search for Alicia and for a safe haven becomes a search for self. Having turned her back on her own identity, can she hope to claim a new life?
This novel is based on a true story told to the author one night by the real Tree Girl in a secure safe house in Guatemala.
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Ben Mikaelsen is the winner of the International Reading Association Award and the Western Writers of America Spur Award. His novels have been nominated for and won many state reader's choice awards. These novels include Red Midnight, Rescue Josh McGuire, Sparrow Hawk Red, Stranded, Countdown, Petey, and Tree Girl. Ben's articles and photos appear in numerous magazines around the world. Ben lives near Bozeman, Montana, with his 700-pound black bear, Buffy.From School Library Journal:
Grade 6-10-In her remote Guatemalan village, 14-year-old Gabriela is known as Tree Girl for her habit of fleeing to the forest and climbing high to escape the world. When guerrilla warfare comes to her area, her life is changed forever. Soldiers eventually discover the small school she attends, beat and murder her teacher, and shoot the other students. Tree climbing saves Gabi from that massacre, and she is away from home when her village is destroyed and nearly all of her family members are murdered. In the course of her flight north to a Mexican refugee camp, she again hides in a tree while soldiers rape and murder the inhabitants of another village. After arriving at the camp, Gabi cares for two elderly women and her one surviving sister and eventually founds a school. Her concern for others helps her recover from the trauma of her experiences. This is a graphic portrayal of the worst of civil war, based on one refugee's story. The author's anger that the U.S. government trained and supported soldiers who committed such atrocities is clear. Details of Guatemalan life are woven throughout the book, but it lacks the sensory descriptions that would allow readers to visualize the setting. Still, the action moves quickly, and Gabi's courage and determination are evident throughout. Readers not put off by the violence should find this an instructive and satisfying survival story.-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC
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Book Description Rayo, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110060090049