cover image Walk with Me

Walk with Me

Jairo Buitrago, trans. from the Spanish by Elisa Amado, illus. by Rafael Yockteng. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55498-857-0

The duo behind Two White Rabbits returns with another compassionate portrait of a child negotiating difficult circumstances with grace. The narrator, an unnamed girl with shaggy dark hair, is joined by an imposing lion as she makes her way through a rundown, smoggy city after school. Wherever they go, passersby look on with shock (some faint in fright). “Let’s go together into the neighborhood,” she says, “and into the store that won’t give us credit anymore.” (Here, the lion unleashes a mighty roar, and the shopkeeper quickly pushes two bags full of groceries to the girl.) Yockteng’s smudgy pencil drawings fill in many details left unsaid by Buitrago’s understated text; together they reveal a girl who quietly and capably handles the adult tasks set before her (picking up her baby brother, cooking dinner while her mother works). The closing revelation that the lion represents her absent father leaves readers with haunting and poignant questions; whether he has actually returned, briefly, or if the lion reflects her imagined wish for his companionship is left as open-ended as the unexplained reasons for his absence. Ages 4–7. (Mar.)