Never Fall Down

By Patricia McCormick

Current & Digital Publisher:
Balzer+Bray (HarperCollins)

Reading Level: Ages 14 & Up

Collage by Angela Halls. Photos by Leslie Reese/Literacy Chicago:

Angela Halls writes:

money is the envy of all men
and human life means nothing to them.

people take so many things for granted
and we don’t realize how precious our lives are

we all want some of the same things in life:
to survive another day…
to live!

Arn is very resilient and mindful
about what he thinks and what he says
he cares about the kids and some of the people he was around.

I wonder
what goes through people’s minds
when they do the things that they do?

Angela Halls was born in Belize. She is a student at Literacy Chicago where she is a member of the book discussion group Reading Against the Odds. Literacy Chicago was a recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading Prize in 2012.


Sarah Chin writes:

The book that I would recommend is Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick. I would recommend this book because this book is important to me. It is about a boy named Arn who is going with his family and almost practically everyone else moves out of his town in Cambodia to another town because of the Khmer Rouge. I like the book because I really like books that are based on a real life story. When I read the book, I felt that it was really sad because they were being forced to go out of their home and they were also being forced to do work even though some of them can’t. What makes the book important is that many people had had similar consequences and it’s just sad that people were forced to work or else they were going to be killed. This is why I really like this book.

Sarah Chin is a twelve-year-old student in BookUpNYC at University Settlement, part of the National Book Foundation’s BookUp after-school program.


YPL Finalists That Year:

  • Carrie Arcos for Out of Reach
  • Patricia McCormick for Never Fall Down
  • Eliot Schrefer for Endangered
  • Steve Sheinkin for Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

YPL Winner That Year: William Alexander for Goblin Secrets

Judges That Year: Judith Ortiz Cofer, Susan Cooper, Daniel EhrenhaftGary D. SchmidtMarly Youmans

The Year in Literature: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos won the Newbery Medal.  Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley won the Printz Award.

More Information: 

  • Much of McCormick’s novel is based on the real-life experiences of Arn Chorn-Pond, a Cambodian man who was only eleven years old when the Khmer Rouge took power and separated him from his family.
  • McCormick was previously a Finalist in 2006 for Sold.

Buy  the Book: