10-year-old Jura joins his father's caravan as they journey with their camels to the regional capital in northeastern Afghanistan to trade their skins and felts for grain. Set against the icy backdrop of the Hindu Kush Mountains, we are transported to an exotic world most of us will know only through books. The warmth of the campfire in a "yurt" [a circular tent], tea poured from a chogun [a small teapot], seeing mosques dominating the capital's architecture, the traders sharing stories of their travels, and the arduous return trip are some of the indelible images in this fascinating book.
- Uma Krishnaswami
Replete with visual and tactile imagery (the icy Hindu Kush Mountains, the feel of camel manes) this book takes the reader into remote areas with some of the most breathtaking landscapes on earth. Through the eyes of ten-year-old Jura, we encounter Kirghiz traders in their caravans, in the snow-covered winter-world of northeastern Afghanistan, "where the mountains meet the sky." Ligasan's textured illustrations depict the inside of a yurt, the cupolas of a mosque and the carpets and samovars of a tea house, in addition to the mountains through which the caravan travels, threatened by avalanches and laden with snow. The plot is slender but the locale is fascinating enough that McKay's evocative imagery pulls the reader on.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Jura, 10, tells of going on his first caravan through the mountain passes of the Afghan Pamirs to trade his family's furs and felts for grains in the city. His pride in being old enough to be a part of this important event reflects his admiration for his father, who leads the convoy. The boy takes readers along on his journey as he encounters the awesome, stark beauty of the mountains and the difficulties of passing along the steep, snowy trails while riding a mare and leading three laden camels. The poetic writing skillfully describes a world far different from one containing automobiles, VCRs, and computers. The illustrations, glowing in earthy hues of browns, golds, and blues, show the details of this way of life. Ligasan portrays small things, such as the knots on the yurt in which the men sleep, as well as the larger aspects of the landscape and the high dome of the mosque in the city. The layout, with the richly textured illustrations set in a stylized frame, is handsome. Words and pictures elucidate not only the customs of another culture, but also a boy's rite-of-passage and adventure with his father. An author's note gives details of the Kirghiz people and their environment. Refreshing and unobtrusively instructive.-Susan Middleton, LaJolla Country Day School, CA