In which Miss Molly realizes she really is having a love affair with the desert

There might be a theme in the books I’ve chosen as of late. Lots of strong women, lots of desert settings. What can I say? It’s a dream of mine to go to the desert, and what better way to live a dream than through books? (At least until I can make my dream a reality.)

The Mysterious Traveler
Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham


Summary: One morning, after greeting the sun, a desert guide is given a gift by the desert: a small baby girl with a gold medallion around her neck. Rescuing her, and her protective camel, from a dust storm, the guide, Issa, raises the little girl as his own. He names her Mariama, and they lead a quiet life, guiding travelers through the treacherous dessert. Through the years, Issa loses his eyesight, and Mariama becomes his eyes.

When a group of travelers comes calling, looking for help with desert passage. But, being that the travelers are in a great hurry, when they learn of Issa’s eyesight , they set off without a guide, chancing the passage alone. Fearing for the traveler’s lives because of an approaching sand storm, Mariama and Issa set off to find them.  But who are these travelers? Why does Mariama feel so strongly about them? Will get to them in time?

What I liked: Everything. The setting is beautiful. The accompanying pictures are gorgeous, full of muted reds and browns, with pops of red and blue. The tale feels like an extended picture book, but richer. The text was rich, yet simple, uncluttered. The story was beautiful, full of strength, and shows the changeability of both the human spirit and the desert.

What I didn’t like: I only wish the story was longer, or that there will be future installments.


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