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Blue Mountain

Review

Blue Mountain

For the bighorn sheep in Tuk's herd, life is not as safe and peaceful as it once was. The herd is smaller and therefore more vulnerable. In addition to predators like bears and pumas, they also face threats from humankind. Tuk's birth, however, ushers in a new era for the herd; one of a life of safety and plenty, if he can lead them to the mythological blue mountain. 
 
Readers meet Tuk, along with his mother Pamir and nursery mates Ovis, Rim, Nai, Mouf, Sto and Dall in BLUE MOUNTAIN, the latest from Martine Leavitt. Following the majestic herd and their new hero Tuk, the novel is written in a sparse and lovely style but doesn't shy away from the very real dangers the bighorn face.
 
Blending myth and ecology, [Martine Leavitt] paints a compelling and provocative picture of the life and struggles of bighorn sheep in a changing landscape.
 
As a young lamb, even before his horns begin to grow, Tuk seems different than the rest of the sheep in the herd. His curiosity leads him to ask his mother many questions and she often answers them with tales from the bighorn lore about life on the mountain, other animals and Lord Denu, first of the bighorn. The bighorn are peaceable creatures who cherish life on the mountain and stay together for protection. “The mountain,” Pamir tells Tuk, “cannot be beautiful without us.” 
 
But without large numbers, the herd is vulnerable to the big cats, bears, wolverines and other animals that stalk them. Plus, as human territories expand, the wild spaces available to the bighorn for grazing are shrinking. The herd suffers hardship and loss, but guided by the old myths, their belief in Lord Denu and Tuk's leadership, some of them make their way to the mountain he saw in the distance. 
 
The blue mountain --- or story mountain --- is legendary but not every sheep believes it exists. Helped and hindered by the creatures of the forest, river and mountain, Tuk and some of the herd set out to find blue mountain. The journey is perilous but rewarding, and when Tuk returns to the old mountain to bring the remainder of the herd to the blue mountain, they are amazed at his big horns and quiet power. In their new home they are able to live out their days in the peaceful way that Lord Denu intended, with their numbers growing.
 
BLUE MOUNTAIN is a beautiful and thoughtful exploration of animal life and an imaginative look at animal culture. The perils facing the bighorn in the story are present in real life, but Leavitt's story is never preachy. Blending myth and ecology, she paints a compelling and provocative picture of the life and struggles of bighorn sheep in a changing landscape. Tuk is an interesting character full of hope and inquisitiveness, and his friends are just as brave and loyal. There is much to ponder and discuss in BLUE MOUNTAIN, making it a great pick for teachers and parents to share or read along with children.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on October 28, 2014

Blue Mountain
by Martine Leavitt

  • Publication Date: October 28, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Nature
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
  • ISBN-10: 0374378649
  • ISBN-13: 9780374378646