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The Man Who Walked the Earth

by Ian Wallace

Well-known author and illustrator Ian Wallace has crafted another fine new book, a contemporary folk tale set on the Prairies in the 1930s. The story’s narrator, André, has been setting an extra plate at supper ever since his father left town in search of work. Since no needy person ever calls to eat with them, André complains about this task, but his mother insists, hoping that someone somewhere will likewise make room for her husband at their table. During the family’s lonely Christmas dinner, a stranger arrives and asks to join them for a meal. In repayment, he performs magic tricks, pulling scarves from his sleeve for André’s mother, and a book on magic out of his hat for the boy. But perhaps his best gift of all is magic wishing salt, which turns the sky brilliant colours when it’s thrown into the air. Minutes after this display, the family hears another knock at the door. André is delighted to find his father there, an answer to his wish made on the salt.

Playing off the myth of Elijah and other folk tales about helping strangers, Wallace weaves a gentle tale of family, blessings, and magic. Although the book will make a soothing bedtime or holiday story for readers aged five and up, its tight focus on one event gives it a static feel that many of the illustrations reflect. The text and drawings, which ably capture the bleakness of the family’s life, make a lovely tableau, but not very much happens; consequently readers may not find the book particularly captivating despite its aesthetic appeal.


Reviewer: Laurie Mcneill

Publisher: Groundwood Books


Price: $17.95

Page Count: 38 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-88899-545-8

Issue Date: 2003-7

Categories: Children and YA Non-fiction, Picture Books

Age Range: ages 5-8