“Like Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey (1993), this picture book captures the immigrant experience when generations live far apart and even happy family life is mixed with longing for “back home.” –Booklist
As her father prepares for a trip back to his childhood home in Ethiopia, Desta begins to worry. Where does her father truly belong–in the village of his youth or here in America with her? What was growing up in Ethiopia like? And will her father’s love for his family be enough to bridge these two worlds and bring him back to her?
Reviews & Accolades
“Lewis’s luminous watercolors light up this warm tale of family ties and the tug of homelands left behind…Kurtz cuts right to the heart of a common childhood concern, giving the angst of separation a fresh twist with the exotic African destination. And in soaringly lyrical language, she paints a word picture of the Ethiopia where she herself grew up, a place where “shepherds pipe songs of longing in the hills, and thousands of flamingos flap in a pink cloud over the Great Rift Valley lakes.” Lewis’s brush is deft: in a series of tender character portraits he reveals the affectionate bond between Desta and her father, and he illuminates the contrast between the two cultures through his graceful landscapes. A haunting blend of the familiar and foreign.” –Publisher’s Weekly
“…Lewis captures the lyricism and rich imagery of the text with his evocative, realistic watercolors. Soft browns, blues, greens, and pinks predominate in paintings that flow to the edge of pages for scenes set here, and fade off into white for those set in the Ethiopia of memory and longing. Text and illustrations combine to immerse readers in the sights and sounds of the African homeland, and the beautifully crafted whole gives fresh meaning to the terms ‘family,’ ‘separation,’ and ‘home.’“–School Library Journal
“Like Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey (1993), this picture book captures the immigrant experience when generations live far apart and even happy family life is mixed with longing for “back home.” …both the words and the pictures are wonderfully specific about the particular place Desta’s father remembers. There are no generic images of “steamy Africa.” Lewis’ stunning, realistic watercolors move from loving close-ups of father and daughter inside their comfortable house to double-page spreads of the Ethiopian countryside, where the pink cloud of flamingos ripples up from the lake and the hyenas, “strange coughing cry” can be heard in the night. The pictures show Desta rooted in her local American school and neighborhood; it’s also clear that her father’s images enrich her life here, even as she longs for his return.“ –Hazel Rochman, Booklist
“…Lewis’s lovely watercolors are filled with the little details that establish place, whether it be Desta’s house, with its pictures of family, lace curtains, and modern kitchen or Ethiopia, with its mud streets, roaming cattle, and majestic scenery. Likewise they reflect both the tenderness of feelings between parent and child, and the wonder of pink flamingo feathers reflected in the blue waters of a faraway homeland. A thoughtful story of the family ties that bind, no matter how far apart.” –Kirkus Reviews
“This is a beautifully told story depicting the differences between generations and cultures.” –Children’s Literature
Homesickness, family relationships, memories, cultural identity
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