The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm

The year is 2174. The place is Zimbabwe, Africa. Three adventurous children escape their parents’ heavily guarded mansion to explore the dangerous world outside. They soon learn how dangerous it really is. Tendai, the oldest boy, is their leader, although he worries about being brave enough. Rita, his sister, is an expert at starting fights. Kuda, his little brother, is willing to try anything. They are quickly enslaved in a plastic mine ruled by the terrifying She Elephant and her army of vlei people. Vlei people have been living in the dump so long they look like piles of trash. The children flee them to find new perils.

They are pursued by the Ear, the Eye and the Arm, detectives hired by the children’s parents, who always seem to arrive too late. The worst danger of all lies at the top of the Mile High MacIlwaine, a hotel so tall that it sways like a tree in the wind. For up there are not merely humans, but spirits whose aim is to devour the souls of Zimbabwe.


“A marvelous odyssey […] featuring a witty projection of the future, a score of vividly realized characters, and a nonstop adventure culminating in a denouement that’s at once taut, comic, and touching, Farmer has created a splendidly imaginative fantasy.”

Kirkus, Starred Review

“The madcap game of chase and escape clips along as the author plies her playful, sly sense of humor on a wonderfully silly cast of secondary characters, spirits and Jetsonian gadgets. This tale overflows with wise insights, lessons and observations about the ties between heritage and family. Farmer is emerging as one of the best and brightest authors for the YA audience.“

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"In its fundamental suspense and appeal the book bears an odd but satisfying resemblance to The Wizard of Oz—witches, scarecrows, and all."

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred Review

"The thrilling adventure [...] will grab readers, who will also like the comic, tender characterizations, not only of the brave, defiant trio and the absurd detectives, but also of nearly every one the kids meet, from street gangsters and spiritual healers to the English tribespeople with their weird customs."


“It is a story that will stick with you and beg to be read again.”

Teen Ink

“THE EAR, THE EYE, AND THE ARM is one of those books you finish and immediately want to call everyone you know to recommend.”

SF Site

Awards & Accolades


Newbery Honor


ALA: “Best Book for Young Adults”


ALA: “Notable Children's Book”


Parent's Choice: 1994 “Story Book Award”


Blue Ribbon Book, 1994


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Golden Kite Honor


Hal Clement [Golden Duck] Award