Thursday, June 10, 2021

Faraway Things by Dave Eggers, Kelly Murphy (Illustrator)
[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]

Halito! Welcome to the next stop on the Faraway Things blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Thanks for stopping by today, and don't forget to check out the giveaway at the bottom! For the full tour schedule, please visit the Rockstar Book Tours website.

About the book: 

Author: Dave Eggers, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
Pub. Date: June 8, 2021
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 40
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, TBD,

From a bestselling author comes an evocative, classic-feeling adventure tale about a boy and his sword, and how giving away something precious leads to an even more important discovery.

Lucian's father called them
faraway things, those mysterious objects orphaned upon the windswept shore, their stories long lost in the shroud of ocean fog. Lucian's discovery on the beach this particular day, though, is no ordinary faraway thing. It's a cutlass: strong, shiny, and powerful. As its history comes to light, Lucian faces a choice: cling to the sword he loves or accept a gift that shines farther, wider, and deeper than he could have ever dreamed.

Stunningly illustrated with evocative art by Kelly Murphy and written by award-winning and bestselling writer Dave Eggers, here is a profound and resonant tale about the reward of letting go.

I really enjoyed the soft, dreamlike quality of the illustrations! I honestly thought Lucian would wake up at any moment and realize that everything had happened while he'd been sleeping, especially after he said his dreams "stayed with him, and became memories, and those dream-memories became, in Lucian's mind, almost as real as his real memories, which he worried were fading." I was a little disappointed when the story continued and we realize that he's definitely awake and just having a very unrealistic experience. 

I liked the concept of faraway things and wish that aspect of the book had been expanded on. It was something Lucian shared with his father - a connection that continued even after his death (this is an assumption, since we're not actually told what happened to his father) - and I wanted to know more about the various objects he's found and collected on the beach. We see a few items around his room, but we can only assume those are things he's found and not been given over time. I wanted to explore Lucian's relationship with his father, and what faraway things meant to them both. Unfortunately, we only see Lucian find the cutlass and what happens afterwards. Do people still carry cutlasses?

I don't think this book was "a profound and resonant tale about the reward of letting go," because Lucian doesn't really have time to form an attachment to the cutlass. Everything happens really quickly, and if the synopsis meant that Lucian would learn to let go of the loss of his father (still an assumption), then that wasn't really portrayed or explained well either. Lucian should give back something that doesn't belong to him, whether it's a faraway thing or not. The captain didn't have to trade him anything for it, since it was his property to begin with. The blurb just makes you think this book is deeper than it actually is, because it really only addresses surface-level feelings.

I had to suspend my disbelief for this one to work, and I would've preferred a more realistic spin on the story. I think the author had a chance to explore a child's emotions regarding the loss of a parent, but we stick to light topics and mostly unbelievable occurrences. As a mother, I would not let my child play with a sword (or any sharp object) they discovered on the beach. It's incredibly dangerous, and Lucian misjudging a swing and chopping off a sleeve only proves my point. (I have no idea how he managed to cut his sleeve all the way off without removing his arm in the process.) If he had hidden the cutlass from his mother, that's one thing, but he showed it to her and she seemed perfectly fine with him having it.

Additionally, Lucian talks to strangers - even gets into his rowboat and boards their ship - all without telling his mother or getting her permission. My kids know they're not supposed to talk to strangers without me being there, and they are definitely not allowed to go anywhere with them. I think this aspect of the story should've been handled better, because it could give children the wrong idea. 

Also, I don't think a lighthouse would be allowed to exist without a light. Don't they have to function so ships don't crash or get stuck? I'm not up-to-date on how lighthouses work, but I feel like they're there for a reason, which makes Lucian's "trade" seem like a waste. Would it have even worked? 

Faraway Things was a quick read for me, but definitely more of a bedtime story. Eggers isn't stingy with his words, which makes for a longer children's book than most, so it might take them a while if they're reading it themselves. Murphy's illustrations are still my favorite part of the book, and I will definitely look for more of her work in the future. Parts of the story were problematic, but if you can suspend your disbelief and explain to your children what not to do, it's an okay read. (★★★☆☆)

Praise for Faraway Things

"Lyrical, descriptive language allows Lucian's story to gently unfold... [a] beautiful story about adventure and honoring a father's memory, this is a noteworthy addition to elementary school libraries."―School Library Journal

* "An ingenious choice for a muted palette...[an] evocative picture book bildungsroman with equally atmospheric illustrations."―Kirkus Reviews

* "Sweeping multimedia art by Murphy gives the galleon, its crew, and the ocean grandeur... Eggers tells his swashbuckling yarn with screenplay-like polish that feels just as expansive as Murphy's art."―Publishers Weekly

"Using wide pictures rendered in muted tones set alongside sparse text, the reader is given a window into the life of Lucian....[t]his story presents a short, yet important journey of loss, growth, and empathy."―School Library Connection

About Dave Eggers:

Dave Eggers is the author of ten books, including most recently Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, The Circle and A Hologram for the King, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern), and a monthly magazine, The Believer. McSweeney’s also publishes Voice of Witness, a nonprofit book series that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. Eggers is the co-founder of 826 National, a network of eight tutoring centers around the country and ScholarMatch, a nonprofit organization designed to connect students with resources, schools and donors to make college possible. He lives in Northern California with his family. Website | Goodreads
About Kelly Murphy:

Kelly Murphy is a New York Times-bestselling author-illustrator and recipient of the E.B. White Award. She has notably illustrated the works of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Beatrix Potter, as well as book covers for various Newbery Medal winning novels, creating award-winning art for clients worldwide. Her 40+ books have been translated in 16 languages, earning countless awards and starred reviews, featuring on "best books of the year" lists by Publishers Weekly, The Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, Kirkus and The New York Times. Kelly teaches illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, is a keynote speaker, competition juror, and leads professional workshops nationwide. She lives in Providence, RI, with her husband, author-illustrator Antoine Revoy, and their many animal companions. Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads 

Giveaway Details:
3 winners will receive a finished copy of FARAWAY THINGS, US Only.


  1. I agree with you that a couple of things sound like they could have been better. I don't want my kid getting the idea that talking to strangers is ok. Sounds like an interesting premise though.

    1. Right? STRANGER DANGER. You definitely shouldn't make kids think it's okay to leave with an adult, get on their ship (could be a car), and then end up alone in a room together.

  2. I think the illustrations are lovely and very much remind me of the ocean with the colors and flowing. Based on your review, I now want to see if I will share your opinion on the believability of this story.

    1. You'll have to let me know what you think!


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