Book Review—Far from Home

Good children’s books lead to empathy, something our nation and our world surely needs right now. Stories about diverse cultures show children of all ethnicities and backgrounds that we are all human, all equally valuable, all very much alike.

In Far from Home, children will empathize with the emotions of a young refugee who journeys with his parents away from all that’s familiar and loved.

Far from Home: A Story of Loss, Refuge, and Hope
written by Sarah Parker Rubio
illustrated by Fatima Anaya
published by Tyndale Kids (2019)
hardcover picture book, 32 pages, 11.1 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches

On his journey, the boy meets an old woman who tells him about another child who made a similar journey. The woman doesn’t name the child in her story, but the details (and a Scripture at the end of the book) are clear: she’s talking about Jesus and his nighttime escape with Mary and Joseph into Egypt .

“What happened to the boy?” I asked.

The old lady smiled. “He learned how to live in a new place. And another new place after that. He grew up and helped many people. He could heal people when medicine didn’t work. He could feed a crowd with one person’s food. He saved a lot of people’s lives.”

She put her hand on my shoulder again. “But he never forgot what it was like–the leaving and the waiting and the different.”

The old woman’s story comforts and encourages the boy while he’s traveling and when he’s settled in a new home where everything—the food, the weather, the people—is different.

Illustrations that focus on faces and postures throughout the book will help children pick up the boy’s emotions as his journey progresses.

We don’t know exactly how old Jesus was when Mary and Joseph left Bethlehem to escape King Herod, but I think he may have been younger than the illustrations of him suggest.

Still, I like what this book attempts to do, and others agree—Far from Home was named an ECPA 2020 Children’s Book Award Finalist.

About These Reviews and Recommendations

My career as a children’s book editor, acquisitions editor, and editorial director greatly influences my response to books. I have high standards for text, illustration, book design, and the purpose of a book.

I understand too that parents, grandparents, and others who buy books want and need good value in the books you choose. Your book budget is not unlimited.

I’m not writing these reviews as hype or promotion for fellow author’s books. I do care about helping authors—after all, I am one. I understand the effort authors pour into every book and the hopes they have for each one. The books I recommend, however, I’m choosing because of the merit I see in the book, no other reason.

I want to point you to the best books more than I want to point out books I don’t like, so I won’t be writing negative reviews. If I can’t support a book, I just won’t write about it. At times, however, I may note details or features I would have changed in a book I otherwise recommend. This is to help you make your own decisions about what books are right for your family.

– Diane

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