Eric Walters has written over 90 books for children, many of them award winning titles. I have read most of them. But his latest book, Walking Home, did something none of his other books ever had: it made me cry at the end. I found it to be touching, interesting, heart warming and a well written story.
Walking Home is the story of a young brother and sister who become orphaned in a troubled, violent time and region of Kenya. The two decide to walk to the region where their mother grew up, in hopes of finding relatives who will take them in. Rather than be separated by government officials who will place them in different homes, they walk over 200 KM, through Nairobi, through villages and deserted stretches.
Eric Walters did his research for this book. To the extreme.
Not only has he build an orphanage in Kenya, and continues to support it financially as well be involved in many day to day operational decisions. He also took a group of children and walked the entire track described in his book. Putting his own feet in the dust of African roads, eating oranges from roadside stalls and hoping to find water from wells, he was able to make this a story that takes the reader right along. It introduces us to Kenyan customs and beliefs. It shows the landscape and the fabric of African life.
The margins of the book have symbols throughout. These symbols seamlessly combine the paper pages (or the e-book) with additional information online. Videos, interviews, maps and other details all add information to the story.
A portion of the cost of this book will be donated, by the publisher to Creation of Hope, Walters' orphanage in Kenya.
This title can be complemented in the classroom by Eric Walters' African picture books: The Matatu, My Name is Blessing and Hope Springs. The latter two stories come directly from the orphanage and are based on the true stories of children living there. Both are heartwarming tales, complemented by back pages with information.