May 15, 2014
A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water across the World by Christine Ieronimo
A Thirst for Home:
A Story of Water across the World
by Christine Ieronimo
When I saw this book, I assumed it would be about a water program in an African village, perhaps in Ethopia. Instead, I found myself reading a story about Alemitu and her mother and the miles they must walk to find water. And the water they have access to isn’t clean. They are always tired and thirsty and hungry, mostly hungry, but they have each other.
At the watering hole, they would gaze into the water and imagine the cities and worlds that lay on the other side. But always the lion of hunger roared in their bellies.
One day, her mother takes her to a place where she will never be hungry again. She tells Alemitu that she will have the opportunity to see the cities on the other side. Alemitu doesn’t understand where she is but she does understand that she is alone, without her mother to keep her safe. One day, a lady the color of the moon comes and they tell Alemitu that this is her new mother. She cannot understand the woman but the woman stays beside her until she falls asleep. Alemitu again feels safe.
In her new home, she has brothers and a sister and a mom and a dad. She can turn on a tap whenever she wants a drink, and because she no longer has to walk to the water hole, she gets to go to school.
When it rains at night and the drops beat on the roof, she is again scared but this time she crawls into bed between her new parents. She falls asleep safe and sound.
The next morning, she goes outside and finds a puddle. In the puddle, she sees to the other side of the world and her mama smiling at her.
This book isn’t at all what I expected but it is lyrical and poetic and oh so meaningful. I don’t always care for books that promise me one thing and then don’t give it to me, but I couldn’t help but adore this one. In the author’s note, you do find out about water projects.
Eric Velazquez mixed media and oil paintings are as richly colored as the dual worlds in which the main character lives. While in Africa, the colors are often warm yellows and orange and the deepest gold. In the U.S., there is a range of greens and blues as well as touches of the golden colors of Africa.
This is the perfect book for sharing with a group in school or at church. Use it to spark discussions about resources and helping others. And also for cluddling close and just reading together.