cover image Faraway Home

Faraway Home

Jane Kurtz. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200036-3

Lewis's (previously paired with Kurtz for Fire on the Mountain) luminous watercolors light up this warm tale of family ties and the tug of homelands left behind. When Desta's father receives word that his mother is ill, he determines to return to his native Ethiopia to visit her. He tells American-born Desta of Ethiopia's beauty, but she hears only the differences-dinners cooked in a firepit, a night wind that is often ""cold as old bones"" and that carries with it the howling of hyenas. ""Your home is too wild,"" she tells him. Besides, she worries that he might not come back. Kurtz cuts right to the heart of a common childhood concern, giving the angst of separation a fresh twist with the exotic African destination. And in soaringly lyrical language, she paints a word picture of the Ethiopia where she herself grew up, a place where ""shepherds pipe songs of longing in the hills, and thousands of flamingos flap in a pink cloud over the Great Rift Valley lakes."" Lewis's brush is deft: in a series of tender character portraits he reveals the affectionate bond between Desta and her father, and he illuminates the contrast between the two cultures through his graceful landscapes. A haunting blend of the familiar and foreign. Ages 6-9. (Mar.)