A middle-grade story rich in natural setting and life lessons.
Tuk is the largest bighorn sheep lamb to be born in many seasons, and matriarch Kenir feels this may be an omen. For years, the winter valley Tuk’s herd depends on for survival has become more and more constricted by humans. The once-plentiful grass has been overgrazed by domesticated sheep, which also bring disease. But Tuk, a visionary, sees a blue mountain in the far distance, and when he becomes a yearling, he leads a small group of fellow yearlings on a quest to find it. Braving wolves, pumas, wolverines and bears, the fledgling band finds the mythical mountain, and in true hero’s-journey fashion, Tuk returns to his old herd to lead them there, thus ensuring everyone’s survival. With its lyrical language (“The loon called, and Tuk wondered if his life was not only one thing, and not only his”), this story of a bighorn sheep who dares to see beyond the well-worn path is not only archetypal in content, but rewarding in narrative. Leavitt tells the story from the animals’ point of view, giving each of them a sturdy character—whether it be brave or wise or, in the case of the ingenuous Mouf, a hilarious cluelessness.
A timeless yet fresh story that beautifully connects readers to the natural world. (Fantasy. 8-14)