Set in Maasailand in Kenya and is about a culture facing change, rhino poaching and bush survival. Twelve-year-old Namelok can’t tell anyone about the mother black rhino and her baby that she found in the bush while collecting firewood for her Maasai tribe. She vows to protect them always, visit them often, and to keep them secret. But when her initiation into womanhood threatens her secret visits, Namelok must say goodbye to her precious animal friends. Before she can, though, she makes a horrifying discovery, one that sends her on a harrowing journey into the bush in a desperate search for poachers and the justice they deserve. Cristina Kessler has written a powerful and authentic story of a young girl’s love for a rhino mother and her baby, and of her courage to challenge tradition to defend them.
“She is beautiful,” called Namelok. The rhino clearly heard her voice, but gave no sign of fright. It was as if a silent agreement had been made in the late-afternoon African bush between the Maasai girl and the rhino. Encouraged, Namelok called again, “I am Namelok-ai, the name my father gave me. It means My Sweetest One. You I shall call Yieyio Emuny Narok, Mother Black Rhino, and let’s call your beautiful baby Siri Aang, for that’s what she shall be–Our Secret.”
Review from School Library Journal
Grade 4-8-While gathering firewood in the bush, 12-year-old Namelok stumbles upon a pregnant rhino and watches her give birth. She names the baby Siri Aang (“Our Secret”), vowing to keep the animals’ existence hidden.She is a curious and courageous character, caught between the values of a nomadic culture and a more sedentary modern society. Because of the wealth of descriptive detail, readers will easily envision the Kenyan landscape and be caught up in the suspense of this intriguing survival story. The cultural dilemmas of the Maasai should stimulate discussion. While the small rhino’s story ends happily, youngsters can only hope that Namelok and her family can negotiate the changes in their lives as successfully.
-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.