Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The Meerkat Wars by H.S. Toshack
Sheena makes the acquaintance of a colony of meerkats, the Duwara, after helping one of their members who was stung by a scorpion. She stays with the colony for a few days, learning about their ways. She is there when another Meerkat colony, the Utongo, raid the Duwara tunnels and kidnap their pups. As Sheena talks to both colonies, it becomes apparent that they are divided not by any reasonable event, but by their belief that each colony is living under the One True Sun. Meerkats start their day standing and basking in the sun, so the sun is the prime event in their world. Those who doubt the supremacy of the sun are enemies. Can Sheena bring the two groups together in the realization that there is one sun that shines for all?
This is a children's book, skillfully educating while entertaining. Several of the animals of the African plain are introduced along with their habitats, feeding habits and general behavior. In addition to the meerkats, there are seval cats porcupines, chameleons, water buffaloes and elephants. The underlying point, that we are all more similar than we are different, and that our separateness is often just self-generated, is brought home without a preachy tone. This book is recommended for middle school readers and for parents interested in getting good books for their children.