An old man, wise to the life of the African desert, finds a treasure.
Issa is the most sought-after guide in the desert, as he sees, hears and smells so keenly. A mysterious ribbon, torn loose in a desert storm, leads him to an amazing discovery—a baby girl he raises as his own. When Issa loses his sight, the young girl, a gift from God he names Mariama, learns to use words to describe colors and shapes. The mountains are a “deep, dark blue, like the scarves of the camel traders who came from the north.” Then, one day, travelers come from the distant east. Their impatience and disdain for Issa almost results in disaster, but Issa and Mariama save them, and a family is reunited after many years of searching. Peet and Graham have crafted an elegant story filled with gorgeous descriptions of the desert world and its storms. Their characters have strength gained from their Islamic faith, abiding love and respect for their harsh land. Lynch’s mixed-media paintings, some framed in borders, capture the grandeur of the people and their landscape using a color palette saturated in golds, coppers and blues. The story, perhaps set during the time of the kingdom of Timbuktu, resonates and would be a beautiful read-aloud.
A sumptuous, memorable tale of family ties. (author’s note) (Novella. 7-12)