In this true story, an indigenous boy from Tierra del Fuego is transported to London in the early 1800s, where he encounters a vastly different world.
Living on a “faraway island” a boy named Orundellico climbs the tallest trees, views the stars, listens to the ocean and wonders what’s “on the other side.” Strangers arrive in a ship, call him Jemmy Button and invite him to visit their land. Reaching the other side of the ocean, Jemmy finds houses made of rocks “stacked in towers taller than the tallest tree.” The people, colors, noises and costumes make him feel “very small indeed.” Soon, he’s wearing their clothes, attending concerts, and even meeting the king and queen, but he never quite feels at home. When the time comes, he returns to the island, announcing: “My name is Orundellico and I have come home.” The powerful, spare text contrasts Jemmy’s innocent island life with the isolation he feels in England. His alienation is cleverly reinforced by gauche, oil and collage illustrations using flat patterns and color to compare the island’s verdant vegetation and quiet, starry nights with the sterile, geometric shapes of urban London. Diminutive, flesh-colored, bemused Jemmy always stands out in a sea of repetitive, anonymous, faceless silhouettes.
The ultimate home-away-home story, beautifully rendered. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)