Mountain Born

Mountain Born, Elizabeth Yates

(Troll Books, 1943), pb., 118 pp.
Ages 5+

This book won a Newbery Honor Award in 1944, and it is well deserving of such an honor. I had known nothing about the book, but was looking for a brief simple read for us and found it on our shelves. It is a story about the love of a boy for an animal, growing up, gaining wisdom and responsibility, and realizing the brevity of life. It is nicely done.

The book portrays simple agrarian life with a family raising sheep and crops. The main character, a 7 year old boy named Peter, takes in a weak lamb from their flock and raises it as a pet. Along the way he is encouraged in growing to manhood by his father and an older worker named Benj. In his interaction with the sheep Peter learns responsibility, respect for the land and animals, the necessity of defense, the passing of time, and the value of work. Many good lessons come up in the book, including Benj’s references to the Bible.

This is not fine literature, but is wonderful children’s literature in the tradition of Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows. We warmly commend it.

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