THE MAN WHO WALKED THE EARTH

Ian Wallace, Author . Groundwood $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-88899-545-2

Spare yet elegant, Wallace's (Boy of the Deeps) narrative and paintings share equal credit for the resonance of this tale, set on a farm on the dust-filled prairies of the 1930s. André's father has just left home in search of work, and his mother tells him to set an extra place at the table in case someone who needs a meal comes to the door. Gazing out the window at "the land that lay as flat as a breadboard to the horizon," she plaintively comments, "Wherever your father is, I hope someone will set a place for him." The boy measures the eight months that pass: "Almost seven hundred and fifty extra plates for me and twelve odds jobs for my father." On Christmas, a hungry stranger knocks at the door and receives an especially generous dinner. Before he leaves, the man, apparently a magician, conjures special gifts and does tricks with the table salt, which he eventually pours, seemingly from nowhere, into the hands of André and his sister, and instructs them to make a wish. When thrown into the air, the salt turns the night sky a brilliant red, but the greatest magic turns out to be its wish-granting quality: later that evening, the children respond to another knock at the door and find their father there. Demonstrating the rewards of showing kindness to strangers, this book offers an affecting variation on a classic theme. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 11/03/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Children's
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