cover image Mysterious Traveler

Mysterious Traveler

Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, illus. by P.J. Lynch. Candlewick, $15.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6232-5

A group of travelers who approach the famous guide Issa for help traversing the dangerous Bitter Mountains snort with derision when they learn he is blind: “A blind guide? Is this some sort of joke? Some sort of trick?” Lynch’s painting shows the turbaned heads of the travelers in foreboding shadow as they leave Issa’s house, deciding to attempt the journey on their own. Sure enough, they find trouble; Issa and his adopted granddaughter, Mariama, must rescue them and their camels during a sandstorm, discovering, as they do, the secret of Mariama’s birth. The husband-and-wife team of Peet and Graham (Cloud Tea Monkeys) tell the tale in grand, Arabian-Nights style (“the light of the rising sun touched the tips of the mountains and painted them a glowing, burning gold”), while Lynch (No One But You) matches their tone with watercolor and gouache paintings that recall Rackham or Dulac. It’s a romantic story, an ostensibly traditional tale invented out of whole cloth, and—as any good romance should—it succeeds in hooking readers right from the start and leaves them wanting more. Ages 5–8. (Oct.)