by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, illustrated by P. J. Lynch
Candlewick, 2013. 48 pgs. Fiction
Five riders are tearing across the desert trying to outrun their pursuers and save the precious cargo on their sixth camel. But something even deadlier is closer at hand--an enormous desert sandstorm engulfs the group. The next day and miles away an old man, a desert guide, finds a foreign bit of cloth stuck to the thorn fence of his goat pen. Fearing someone is in distress, he saddles up his donkey and rides into the desert where he finds an even grumpier than usual camel lying across a cavity in the rock, and inside the cavity is a baby girl. Issa, the guide, knows that this child has come into his life for a reason, so he names her Mariama and becomes her father. When Mariama is a nearly-grown young lady, Issa goes blind. And who will hire a blind guide? But the landscape lives on inside his head, and with her acting as his eyes, they save a group of travelers who will come to make a wonderful difference in their lives. Peet and Graham, a husband and wife team, have written a tender story of the desert and her people, and of the blessings of kindness. P.J. Lynch's muted pictures are just lovely, and make this short volume a treasure to keep.