The Mysterious Traveler tells the story of a blind guide who led traders through the Sahara Desert. PJ Lynch’s beautiful illustrations surround the reader with the colors and feel of the desert and set the stage for the scary adventure that tests the guide’s many talents.
An uplifting tale evoking the golden sands of Africa by Carnegie Medalist Mal Peet and his wife, Elspeth Graham, captivatingly illustrated by P.J. Lynch.
Already an old man, desert guide Issa has seen thousands of dawns. One particular morning, however, the desert reveals something new; something that changes his life. Tucked away in a narrow cave, shielded from a treacherous dust storm by a faithful camel, a baby girl lies wrapped in fine cotton and wearing half of a star medallion around her neck. Issa names the girl Mariama. As years pass, Issa loses his sight, and Mariama becomes his eyes. So Issa doesn’t see the pattern on the robes of a mysterious young traveler who comes through their village, or the medallion he wears. Who is this young stranger, and what does his arrival mean for the life Issa and Mariama share in the desert?
About the Author
Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham live in Devon, England, in a house not too far from the sea. Elspeth Graham found the seed for this story while writing a book about tea. Mal Peet is the author of such YA novels as Keeper; The Penalty; Exposure; Life: An Exploded Diagram, a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book; and the Carnegie Medal–winning Tamar.
P.J. Lynch is one of the most talented illustrators working today. He is a two-time winner of the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal, and three of his books, including The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, have been awarded the Christopher Medal. He lives in Dublin.
The story ... resonates and would be a beautiful read-aloud. A sumptuous, memorable tale of family ties. —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Lynch’s rich mixed-media illustrations–in shades of velvety browns and tans punctuated by blues–capture the desert’s expansive quality. ... [O]ffer[s] fresh whimsy to the folktale form. —School Library Journal
[A]lthough this isn’t strictly folklore, fans of the genre will appreciate the personable but wise narration and final plot twist. The mixed-media illustrations — some full-page panels, others as small insets, still others acting as backdrop for the text — communicate the harsh beauty of the desert with their soft and painterly outlines, vast and empty expanses, and earthy palette. ... [T]hose who explore [this book's] pages will be rewarded with a simple tale that’s both adventurous and heartwarming. —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Muted, earth-toned watercolors supplement the text, creating a magnificent story. This heart-warming book is based on a true story and will prove a welcome addition to upper elementary and middle school libraries. —Library Media Connection
The story ... is told with such precision to detail (of both setting and emotion) that children will respond. The artwork, often framed, is reminiscent of the work of Trina Schart Hyman and has a stately look that suits the story. —Booklist Online
It’s a romantic story, an ostensibly traditional tale invented out of whole cloth, and — as any good romance should — it succeeds in hooking readers right from the start and leaves them wanting more. —Publishers Weekly
Enchanting and gentle tale of family love...Sympathetically written and elegantly illustrated, this is a beautiful story. —Books for Keeps