cover image Way Home

Way Home

Elizabeth Hathorn, Libby Hathorn. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-517-59909-9

A boy named Shane is heading home through the city one night when he meets a stray kitten in an alley. Tucking it inside his jacket, Shane maneuvers past a variety of dangers-bullies, traffic, a snarling dog-until they at last reach his home, itself no more than a corner in another alley. Hathorn's gritty evocation of life on the streets is matched by Rogers's darkly realistic visuals, in which the lights of cars or the glitter of showroom windows serve only to emphasize the shadows and grime of the pathways Shane and his kitten must traverse. An air of menace prevails throughout, conveyed through both large and small details, and reinforced by the placement of the text on a black background with a jagged, torn edge. In this honest, unsparing collaboration, an import from Australia, Shane's world is harsh, sometimes frightening, but not entirely hopeless: his hip, affectionate patter (``Whadda you reckon, Catlegs? Shane's taking you home right now'') cuts through the darkness like a redemptive beacon, tenuous yet bright. Ages 6-10. (Aug.)