A child walks across the desert fleeing conflict, recalling the home left behind and promising to return to it someday.
As Marwan walks, the simple and poetic text brings readers along on this heartbreaking journey: “I walk, and my footsteps leave a trace of ancient stories, the songs of my homeland, and the smell of tea and bread, jasmine and earth.” Marwan walks with many. His mother is not among them, but as he dreams, he can hear her voice urging him to walk on and never look back. He remembers the day darkness swallowed up everything and he joined a “line of humans like ants crossing the desert.” Marwan vows to return and to pray “that one day the night never, never, never goes so dark again.” Borràs’ deceivingly simple freestyle illustrations in ink and color wash go hand in hand with the text, neither one shying away from harsh reality yet still child accessible. Originally published in Spanish as El Camino de Marwan and honored at the Bologna Ragazzi Awards in 2017, it is the story of a journey that is sadly the journey of too many children, one filled with fear and hope, longing and sadness. The country that Marwan is forced to leave is never specified, but details such as his Arabic name, onion domes, and women in hijabs point to Syria.
A beautiful, haunting, and, sadly, important book. (Picture book. 6-10)