WALKING HOME by Eric Walters


Age Range: 9 - 13
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Thirteen-year-old Muchoki, his mother and his little sister live in a refugee camp after fleeing the intertribal bloodshed in their Kenyan hometown of Eldoret that took the life of their Kikuyu father.

When their mother succumbs to malaria, Muchoki decides to set out on foot with 7-year-old Jata to reach their mother’s relatives in Kambaland, a journey of over 200 kilometers. Canadian author Walters turns his firsthand knowledge of Kenya into rather standard, message-laden but adventuresome fare. On their journey, the children find individuals willing to help and who act out of kindness both in cities and in the wild. There’s the requisite encounter with a lion and another with a Maasai warrior who defies the stereotype that Muchoki grew up with. Adults of a variety of tribes reinforce the idea that killing is always wrong, allowing Muchoki to grow beyond his urge to avenge his father’s death. Unfortunately, nowhere does the author use a date to tie the story to actual events, a shortcoming for a first-person account based on the very real recent unrest in Kenya. Nonetheless, this is a solid story of hope prevailing over despair.

With its dependable truisms—variations on “the longest journey starts with a single step”—and its comforting message of the strength of family, this story should resonate with North American middle-grade readers. (Adventure. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-38568-157-5
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2014


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