Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Books of the Year List (2023)
The New York Public Library Best Books for Kids List (2023)
A memorable, compelling story about the perseverance of a child and the human right to education.
The sky is still dark when a young boy leaves home for school. He has a long path ahead: nine kilometers—over five-and-a-half miles—through the mountains and rain forests of Chile. But the boy doesn’t mind. While he walks, he can count butterflies and lizards, and he can think about where the 15,000 steps he takes every morning could lead. Nine kilometers could bring the boy across ninety soccer fields, up the world’s ten largest buildings, or into a classroom at last…
Set against the lush backdrop of southern Chile, this book features one of the many children around the world who travel long distances in order to go to school. After the story, thoughtfully illustrated back matter explores the unique birds of Chile and the courage of similar students’ journeys in other countries. Striking and timely, 9 Kilometers will open lasting conversations about social inequalities, the value of learning, and the resilience of those who push past obstacles toward a better future.
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A brilliantly illustrated account of an arduous—yet deeply rewarding—journey.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Lyon’s saturated, painterly illustrations capture the text’s thoughtful mood, visualizing the walk—and the antics of various animal and bird species—across landscapes both wide-lens and zoomed-in. Contemplating, per an end note, ‘the construction of a society in which education is a right and not a privilege,’ this is a narrative to encounter again and again.”
“Small paintings of children from eight countries depict how they travel to school. Showing their circumstances underscores the message that these are current, not historical, conditions, and conveys the importance of education to families across the world.”
Horn Book Magazine
“Most of the story is revealed in the atmospheric acrylic paintings; for example, we see the child use a forked stick to raise the bottom of a barbed-wire fence and crawl through. . . . One particularly effective picture shows the character crossing a cow pasture, looking tiny in the expanse with the bigger animals.”
School Library Journal (starred review)
“With an overarching message that education is well worth the walk, this book is recommended for all picture book collections.”