Mysterious Traveller by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham. Illus. P.J. Lynch
I rarely come across stories like this one, I don’t know why but I guess nobody writes them anymore.
It is a simple story set in the African desert about a wise old desert guide named Issa who finds a camel protecting a basket containing a baby girl after being buried in a sand storm.
Issa brings the young girl up as his grand daughter until she is a young girl, then blindness changes their lives. The girl becomes the old man’s eyes and she describes the land around her so that he can guide his clients. It works.
Then some travellers come but mock the old guide. They leave and too are caught in a sand storm. The old man and the girl go out looking for the travellers and in the process learn an amazing fact.
Simply told with biblical wisdom -“wealth does not always bring happiness, but poverty always brings sorrow”. I guess we all know that but stories personalise this in a powerful way.
The illustrations by P.J. Lynch are magical. They capture the character of the old man and the desert landscape beautifully.
This short novel for everybody is the best of it’s kind I have read for some time.