Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Day of the Pelican” as Want to Read:
The Day of the Pelican
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Day of the Pelican

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  865 ratings  ·  185 reviews
Meli Lleshi is positive that her drawing of her teacher with his pelican nose started it all. The Lleshis are Albanians living in Kosovo, a country trying to fight off Serbian oppressors, and suddenly they are homeless refugees. Old and young alike, they find their courage tested by hunger, illness, the long, arduous journey, and danger on every side. Then, unexpectedly,
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published October 19th 2009 by Clarion Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Day of the Pelican, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kirin Yes. As a novel study or social studies tie in it would be good. To independently read the kids might find it a bit dry. Definitely needs a map to go…moreYes. As a novel study or social studies tie in it would be good. To independently read the kids might find it a bit dry. Definitely needs a map to go along with the reading. :)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  865 ratings  ·  185 reviews

Sort order
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
Picked this up, hoping to get through a couple of the shorter things I had.. not sure what to expect. Didn't realize this was also the author of "Bridge to Terabithia" (love the movie but haven't gotten around to reading the book yet) so that was a nice surprise.

This wasn't easy get into at first (though that could have been me not sleeping well and having trouble focusing too) but after a certain two events happened I began to sink into the story more and got swept along with the f
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Sep 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
I wanted to put it on the shelf of "Historical Fiction" and then realized that, hmm... it is really a book of more or less current events in the world that the young readers are still living. 9/11 happened when the current 5th graders were 2 or 3. So, the "historical" part is recent, so recent that I wonder how we can best discuss the story with young readers.

Paterson did a fabulous job turning such complex political and national picture into something easy to understand and identify with for it
Megan Richards
Oct 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Combining Paterson's gift of writing and the tragic truth of the Serbian "cleansing" of Kosovo makes this book a must read. I highly recommend social studies teachers to incorporate this book into their curriculum for Eastern Europe studies. Of course, I always thought that history and geography would be more entertaining with narrative fiction. Anyway, it might take the low level readings a minute to get use to the names, but the story is action pack making it a quick read. I also that it was i ...more
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Aug 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: j-fiction
Determined to stick together when war came to Kosovo in 1998, 11-year-old Meli Lleshi's family left their apartment over the store first to camp in the mountains, then to crowd into the family farmhouse before fleeing to the Macedonian refugee camp which they left for a new life in Vermont.
As she has done so often, Paterson creates such a sympathetic and realistic main character you can't hep but wanting to know her story. From the opening scene, when Meli's uncle arrives to tell the family the
Sep 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, reviewed
This masterful tale of one girl's journey from childhood across a war-torn landscape easily stands with Paterson's body of work. Meli and her family are forced to flee their home- first to the mountains, then to a refugee camp in Macedonia, and finally to a small town in Vermont- in order to survive as Kosovo goes up in flames. Though the harsh realities of war are muted in the narrative, there are veiled references to rape, torture, and genocide that will be picked up by older readers. The stre ...more
Rudrani Ghoshal
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
So... how do I start this? ... ... ... okay, well here goes nothing ...,
I was required to read this book for school, and I’m like, well this is going to be terrible. I started reading the book and I immediately lost interest. The book has nothing that catches your attention. I have to read it and so there I am... reading 🙄, and as I go on I realize the book isn’t complete trash 😂. There are some parts of the book that make you never want to put the book down, but there are other parts of the bo
Jun 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is the worst book ive ever read. From the confusing impossible to pronounce names to the bad storyline. There are way to many charcter to remember them all. The story is not interesting and is boring and i dont want to keep reading. I would never recommend this book to anyone as I dont want to cause them the pain of reading this trash
Cassie Dornan
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought the book was pretty good. Yes there were some boring parts, and that didn’t interest me, the book was overall good. Some parts made me not want to put the book down. I would read this book if you are looking for a book to read! Pretty good!
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am loath to admit how little I know about this war that took place while I was an adult. Katherine Paterson writes of a family of Albanians caught up in the war in Kosovo. Life changes for Meli, a thirteen year old girl, and her family the day she draws a picture of her teacher, resembling a pelican, at school. Rather than waiting to walk her home, Meli's older brother goes home alone and is captured, thrown in jail and not released until several weeks later. Upon her brother's arrival home, M ...more
May 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
A book inspired by the true story of a refugee family from Kosovo that came to Paterson’s Vermont town. This family inspired her to write a touching and informative novel based on their experiences fleeing to safety.
This book’s title is very inspiring as that it demonstrates how quickly in life things change and how one small mistake can take you down an unexpected journey. This story begins as the main character, Meli draws a silly picture of her teacher and gets in trouble for giggling thus c
Erin Forson
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Day of the Pelican
by Katherine Paterson
After the Holocaust the world said, “never again will people be slaughtered because they are different.” That's never happened since, right? I wish that was a fact, but it's not. Every decade it's revealed that human beings kill other human beings because of their race, religion, tribal membership, who knows why? We still do this. In fact, thousands of Albanian Muslims fled Kosovo as recently as 1998 (you were alive then!) because Serbian Christians we
Nancy Anderson
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 13-24
Meli Lleshi is 12 years old when political unrest is stirred in Kosovo Albania. The Muslims are no longer safe. While in school, she draws a pelican that resembles her teacher and is told to stay after class. She figured that her brother, Mehmet, would walk home and spread the news but he ends up going missing for two weeks. He returns bruised and battered and with a hatred for the enemy. Meli’s parents escape to the mountains. When Father deems it safe to go back home, they are shot at and lea ...more
Caitlin Tyo
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was an unexpectedly great book! It's about the Lleshi family living in war-torn Kosovo. The story starts with the main character's, Meli, brother getting kidnapped by some Serbs. Meli blames herself but it's really not her fault. He is reclaimed by the lovable character, Baba, the patriarch of the family. They all become refugees because it's way too dangerous to stay home. Meli has to be strong and brave and help her family move to their family member's cottage, then to a refugee camp and ...more
Even though I was in high school/college and studying European history during the conflicts in Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, and Kosovo in the 1990s, I knew very little of what happened there beyond the facts of a genocide (mass killing of people based on their race or ethnicity) and the U.S. and NATO airstrikes. This book brought a sad episode in history to life. There is no better way to learn history than a first person account, fictional or real, yet the book feels like the story of Meli and her ...more
Kimberly B
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book to read because of a friend/co-workers blog. He had written that an author had gotten in touch with him about his work and experience living in Kosovo. We were both missionaries, he in Kosovo and I in Macedonia. The author then dedicated the book to him. Needless to say when I found out it was Katherine Paterson I couldn't wait to read it. I love her other books; Jacob Have I Loved, Lyddie, and Bridge to Terabithia.

I like how the book paints both the Serbs hatered for the A
Oct 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Katherine Paterson's THE DAY OF THE PELICAN lends a human face to the 1998-1999 unrest in the former Yugoslavia. Meli and her family are Albanians persecuted by the Serbs under the reign of Milosevic and forced to flee for their lives, leaving everything they've known except for one another. Their journey is a perilous one with twists, turns, and hardships that will have young readers holding their breath. Even when the family seems to be starting a new life in a safer place, new challenges aris ...more
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There is a whole genre of books like Ann Frank - this joins them, except it is fiction - and Katherine Paterson has done it again. Meli is an Albanian living in Kosovo as the civil war of 1998-1999 overtook her comfortable life. She and her family escaped to a mountain camp, living in tents even as the snow fell and trying to keep her brother from joining the KLA. The book is appropriate for middle school readers, even tho they'll have no memory of the war itself. Paterson writes from her experi ...more
Mar 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
This is the story of a family Albanians living in Kosovo who have are being persecuted by the Serbians and forced brutally from their home in 1999. Suddenly they become homeless refuges forced to live in a tent in the mountains. They survive the ethnic cleansing attempts that the Serbs submit to these people. Finally a church sponsors this family and they end up in Vermont. But their persecution doesn't stop there. This book really opened my eyes up to the plight of the refuges living in this wo ...more
Paula Hickey
Jun 22, 2010 rated it liked it
The reading level and length of this novel lends itself to middle school, yet the plot narrates the tragedy of an Albanian Kosovar family who survive the ethnic cleansing of 1998-1999. Its value as historical fiction extends well beyond middle school.
One branch of the family immigrates to Vermont a year ahead of 9/11. The novel ends after showing how the family perseveres through the scrutiny they receive as Muslims after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The novel's strengths are its historica
Tenchoe Tsering
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the book “The Day of the Pelican” the author Katherine Paterson talks about refugees and their experience with escaping Civil Wars, along with their lives when they leave the country and/or when the war ends. The book talks about a serious topic like war, but it is followed by the simple mind of an 11-year-old girl. This creates a wonderful experience for middle school age readers or above. It has some harsh parts, but the experience of the characters make it so the reader finishes the book w ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dayanara Munoz
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Day of the Pelican was such a great book to read because it was about a young girl name Meli Lleshi and her family face some hardship along. For example Meli and Mehmet were discriminated in school when they move to united states. This is why another reason why i like the book so much because it connect to how people in other place are discriminated because of their race and religion .

Another part that happen in the book that i like was when the kla and the serbian soldiers take over Meli
Brandon Johnston
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Meli Lleshi is an Albanian girl growing up in Kosovo, going to school and helping her family. When her 13-year-old brother is abducted by the Servbian police and beaten, Meli is afraid it is her fault. And when the family reaterns back home they must leave because they hear that its not safe because they beard theat the serbs are slautering familys because they are albanian. And then the family has to live on very little food supplysand the knowledg of the serbs are killig innicent familys beca ...more
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading for older kids -junior high and up through adults!!!!

I am very much enjoying reading junior high realistic fiction. I am finding that I can learn about other countries and situations within a smaller book format. The stories are generally engaging. Most importantly, the ones that I have found have been written without the political slant that is rampant all over the adult world.

This particular book places you in the life of a Syrian refugee. It tells us how she we
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
The Day of the Pelican was an exciting novel that kept me reading. It all started when Meli and her friend Vlora were a school and drew a funny picture of her teacher as a pelican. When their teacher saw the note, he made them stay after school. Mehmet was tired of waiting to walk the girls home. Everone expected that he had left and gotten home earlier but they were mistaken and they soon found out that he was missing. The family began looking everywhere for him. The events that followed includ ...more
Vicky Hunt
Refuge from Hatred

A family flees from war and hate, through Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, and Albania, across the seas to the United States. Things are soon upended on Nine Eleven. Afraid to find themselves alone and battling hatred again, they struggle to make sense of events. A gripping story of pain and loss that emphasizes family, peace, and acceptance. Highly recommended for most all ages.

I read this for my stop in Serbia in my Around the World in 80 Books Journey. It contains details about th
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Prince of Fenway Park
  • A Million Shades of Gray
  • Newsgirl
  • The Private Thoughts of Amelia E. Rye
  • The Dream Stealer
  • Peace, Locomotion
  • Sylvia & Aki
  • The Midnight Zoo
  • A Thunderous Whisper
  • Anybody Shining
  • The Other Half of My Heart
  • No Safe Place
  • Pretty Like Us
  • When the Whistle Blows
  • A Season of Gifts (A Long Way from Chicago, #3)
  • Adaline Falling Star (Scholastic Signature)
  • The Storyteller's Beads
  • Same Sun Here
From author's website:

People are always asking me questions I don't have answers for. One is, "When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?" The fact is that I never wanted to be a writer, at least not when I was a child, or even a young woman. Today I want very much to be a writer. But when I was ten, I wanted to be either a movie star or a missionary. When I was twenty, I wanted t