Eric Walters is a bestselling writer of books, ranging from picture books for the littlest to adventure novels for teens. Kids are drawn to his books because he doesn’t hesitate to tackle major issues – 9/11, war, poverty – but he does it at their level. He’s also a very cool guy.
He runs an orphanage in Kenya. He covers all the administrative fees. He is an elder in the Kumba tribe – as he puts it, “the whitest Kumba ever.” And Walking Home is based on true events, and some of the kids he has gotten to know there.
In Walking Home, a brother and sister have been forced to move to a refugee camp, after political violence ended in their father’s death and the destruction of their home. While in camp, their mother dies of malaria. Rather than be separated into different orphanages, they make the decision to slip away from camp in the night, and try to find their maternal grandparents, who they have never met, in a town no one has ever heard of. They have no money to speak of, so the journey of hundreds of kilometres will be on foot.
It is a moving story, and it’s enhanced by the fact that Walters walked the walk – literally. He made the journey they did, and the text has symbols throughout the book where you can go to the book’s website and watch a video clip, or see a photo, or hear the sounds of Kenya. It is an immersive experience – and listening to Walters talk about Kenya, his compassion for her people, his amazement at their strength – well, I dare you to stay unmoved. I certainly was touched.
In fact, my whole bookstore was touched to the point where we decided we were going to sell as many copies as we could. Since the publisher has committed to donating $1.30 from the sale of each copy of walking home to Walters’ charity, Creation of Hope ( creationofhope.com ) we found out from Walters that selling 77 copies of the book in store was enough to run the orphanage for a day.
At last count, we had sold almost enough for three days – more than 200 copies. We received the following photo:
So, help out. Buy a great book, help a great cause. You have nothing to lose, and they have everything to gain.