A thirst for home by Christine Ieronimo

cover image

Ill. by Eric Velasquez. Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9780802723079.
(Age: 6+) Highly recommended. Picture book, Refugees, Water, Friendship. Alemitu and her mother walk for miles every day to collect water to drink. The sun beats down upon their backs, reminding the reader of just how pitiless some places can be. This is Ethiopia, and her mother tells her that water is the most precious thing on earth, and shows her the water hole where they get their water, deep and bottomless. Alemitu looks deeply into the water hole and wonders what is on the other side.
One day her mother leaves her with some people and later a woman comes to take her with her to America where she will be her daughter. Here she learns to live quite differently, turning on a tap to get fresh clean water whenever she wants, but she always remembers where she is from, and imagines her mother at the other end of the water she sees in a huge puddle after a rainstorm in her new home. They are connected by water.
This is a tender story about links between people, about the world's need for water, about the poverty of life in Ethiopia where a mother gives up her child for the chance of a better life for the child. The bold illustrations depict the two communities clearly, sweeping across the pages, linking the two together with a butterfly, with wings the colour of her first home. Alemitu's scarf forms a link across pages and the child's face stares at us, the people with water that comes form a tap. The author conceived the idea for this book when she saw her adopted child drinking from a puddle in her new home. Weblinks are given for readers to find out more information about water and Ethiopia.
Fran Knight