Desert December CL

Dorian Haarhoff, Author, Leon Vermeulen, Illustrator Clarion Books $13.95 (1p) ISBN 978-0-395-61300-9
This affecting story--set in South Africa, home to both collaborators--concerns Seth, a kind, capable boy who stays at home with his grandfather while his pregnant mother goes off to join his father, employed at a faraway copper mine. Seth passes the time carving the figure of the Madonna out of a piece of driftwood. Then, on the day before Christmas, he sets out on a donkey cart to bring this present to his mother. On the way, the boy meets two strangers who leave him with small but important tokens. Aided by a giant oryx, Seth finally reaches his father's shack, where he finds his parents and his newborn sister, to whom he passes on the gifts. Haarhoff's elegant, hushed prose is laced with striking images and analogies (``Sometimes the sun sucked the water pools like a hungry baby at the breast.'') Through his somewhat primitive, black-and-white drawings, Vermeulen, making his children's book debut, conveys the strong bond among this family's members. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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