cover image When I Left My Village

When I Left My Village

Maxine Rose Schur. Dial Books, $14.99 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1561-5

In their trenchant sequel to the acclaimed Day of Delight, Schur and Pinkney recount the perilous journey of 12-year-old Menelik and his family as they brave overwhelming odds to make their way from Ethiopia to Israel. As Ethiopian Jews, or Beta Israel, they have faced religious persecution since the Marxist military government's rise to power in 1978 (a concluding note supplies background information). Although conditions are insupportable, the Beta Israel have been forbidden to leave the country for Israel, and so Menelik, his younger brother and their parents steal away from their home one night with just a few possessions and a scant supply of food. They can travel only at night, and on foot; Menelik's father estimates that they will need two weeks. Writing with pathos deepened by memorable imagery, Schur casts Menelik as the narrator of this arduous, ultimately triumphant flight. Pinkney's fittingly stark, accomplished scratchboard art gracefully reflects the family's movement from darkness into light. Ages 6-10. (Jan.)