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The Secret of the Mountain

The Secret of the Mountain

by Esther Linfield

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up This story about a chief's son and his relationship with cattle and his father's extended family is set in southeastern Africa among the Xhosa people. However, the cultural and geographical backgrounds of the action are so generalized that the action could occur among any southern African cattle-raising/agricultural society. The unspecified time of the story is before the arrival of Europeans. The adventures of Anta, the 15-year-old hero, focus on his initiation into adulthood; care of his ox and his search for it when it becomes lost; cattle raids and theft and rivalry with his elder half-brother. Anta also is peripherally involved in the rivalry among his father's wives and witchcraft accusations against the youngest of them when his favorite sister becomes ill. The focus is on action with little character development, although Linfield mentions social values as a source of motivation. The story is exciting and suspenseful in parts but difficult to follow in others because of abrupt changes in scene without any transition. The undefined setting and narrow scope of the action do not provide insights into southern African history for readers lacking historical knowledge of the area. Nancy J. Schmidt, Indiana University Library, Bloomington, Ind.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Age Range:
10 Years

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