cover image Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan

Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan

Mary Williams. Lee & Low Books, $18.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-58430-232-2

Williams, who founded the Lost Boys Foundation, debuts with a picture book that depicts the struggles of thousands of orphaned Sudanese boys, torn from their families in the mid-1980s. Her story centers on narrator Garang, a boy who herds cattle with his parents. One day he returns to find the village had been attacked and was now empty, though he soon encounters other wandering boys. \x93At first there was just me\x97one. Soon one became many. Too many to count.\x94 The boys nominate him to lead their group of 35. At times, the narrative feels dense and clunkily expository (\x93I joined the group of leaders, and we decided we would walk to a country called Ethiopia\x94). But the events will keep readers turning the pages, as the youngsters make their dangerous journey by night, sleeping in the forest by day. Garang paints a bleak portrait of the experience (\x93Sometimes we had to drink our urine to get moisture in our bodies\x94), but the group finally reaches an Ethiopian refugee camp\x97until war again threatens and they must flee to Kenya. Garang never loses faith or hope\x97something that Williams, in her introduction, says she witnessed firsthand when she met several of the Lost Boys. Christie\x92s (The Palm of My Heart) acrylics, in bold strokes and brilliant colors, with their childlike renderings of figures and scenes, correlate nicely to the young narrator\x92s unflagging determination, and help to balance the darkness of the events. Ages 7-up. (May)