post written by Esther Filbrun
Title: Mountain Born
Author: Elizabeth Yates
Major Themes: 20th century, United States, Christian Historical Fiction, Farm Life, Sheep, Dogs, Children’s Fiction
Synopsis: Peter, a sheep farmer’s son, raises a black lamb to be the leader of the flock—and learns what it means to be a leader and a follower at the same time.
Mountain Born (and its sequel, A Place for Peter) holds sweet memories for me. I remember when I was very young—around six or so—and the first time I ever heard this story. Mom read it to me—probably sitting side-by-side on the old brown couch whose pillows always needed plumping up—and together we journeyed into Peter’s life. And when the book was done, we put it away with a sigh of contentment.
Although young, Peter loved animals—and especially the little lamb that his mother coaxed back into life. He also loved old Benj, the farm manager—a rough old man, but wise and kind and a wonderful teacher for Peter. Throughout the story, we can see Peter grow—from a very young inexperienced boy into a more mature responsible young man. Peter learns what it means to be a leader—and also how to be a follower. There are rough times, but even through those he learns valuable lessons that he will need later on.
It’s hard to sum up this book in just a few sentences. I love the fact that although it would be easy to skip all together, there is a slight Christian slant to the story. The story itself is masterfully written, and Peter, his parents, and old Benj are believable people. This is also a wonderful way to learn about how living on a farm in the out-back was like around 100 years ago. Mountain Born has won the Newbery Honor, and I’m glad it has—the story well deserves it. Your children, especially the ones aged 5 – 10 will love it whether as a reader or as a read-aloud.