February 03, 2015

In a Cloud of Dust

by Alma Fullerton
Illustrated by Brian Deines
Pajama Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
For release March, 2015

Like so many children who live in isolated communities in Africa, Anna accepts the need to travel long hours if she is to attend school.  The opportunity for schooling is worth it.  While others may be playing football during lunch break, Anne completes her homework which she cannot do at home as she always arrives home after dark.  This day, however, she has missed the arrival of the bicycle library and all the bicycles are snatched up by her classmates.

But, Anna still recognizes the value of these donated bicycles and goes out of her way to help her friends learn how to ride, experiencing their joy vicariously.  However, by accompanying them on their rides home, she finds her own journey takes much less time,  especially when her friend Mohammad shares his with her.

In a Cloud of Dust provides a glimpse into the lives of children who must travel long distances for the chance to attend school. Alma Fullerton's text is modest in its quantity but weighty in its simple message of compassion and support, similar to her A Good Trade (Pajama Press, 2012) and Community Soup (Pajama Press, 2013) picture books.  And, while I look forward to seeing more of Alma Fullerton's own artwork in future endeavours, Brian Deines' illustrations are incomparable, effectively portraying the dusty and lengthy distances over Anna must travel to school. Because of his reliance on oils, Brian Deines' illustrations are highly evocative of the landscape and mood of the remote areas of Anna's Tanzanian home, providing less detail and more ambiance than other media might provide, particularly in the brush of the illustrator of Bear on the Homefront (Innes and Endrulat, Pajama Press, 2014).

In the hands of Alma Fullerton and Brian Deines, the story of Anna and her travels to and from school are never lost In a Cloud of Dust.

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