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Children's LiteratureIn the early 1950's in Kenya, Africa, the social structure is such that the white landowners are on the top, and the native boys on the bottom. As one of those native boys, twelve year old Kariuki has no more status than the village dogs. He hates school, where the headmaster engages in routine beatings for the simplest infractions. At home, the beatings come from his older brother, Hari, or his overworked father. His mother does not beat him, just supplies him with an endless list of chores. Kariuki only finds peace when he walks the many miles home from school through the beautiful forests and plains surrounding his impoverished village, or when his mother sends him to the river for water and as he toils he watches the ducks. It is at the river that Kariuki meets the white boy, Nigel, grandson of Bwana Ruin, owner of the farm where the villagers work. Typical of twelve- year-olds everywhere, the two boys care more for fun and adventure tinged with a little danger than they do for social politics. They soon become fast friends. To the adults, however, this friendship is an abomination, and they do everything they can to discourage it. A great look at a place and time in history that is not familiar to most American children, this book would be a good supplement to the middle school social studies curriculum. 2005 (Orig. 1990), House of Anansi Press/Groundwood Books, Ages 10 to 12.