cover image Fire on the Mountain

Fire on the Mountain

Jane Kurtz, E. B. Lewis. Simon & Schuster, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-671-88268-6

Debut illustrator Lewis's exceptional watercolors of Ethiopian mountains and mountain people quicken Kurtz's (Pulling the Lion's Tail) revision of a well-known tale. The shepherd boy Alemayu finds himself challenged by his rich, ill-tempered employer to prove his bravery and courage by spending a night in the mountains with nothing but a thin shemma (cloak) for protection. Alemayu succeeds, but the rich man reneges on his promise of a sack of money and four cows when Alemayu explains that he kept warm by his vision of a remote fire: ``Looking at a fire... is the same as building a fire,'' the rich man gloats. But the other servants, under the direction of Alemayu's sister (a character Kurtz invents for her retelling), shame the master into upholding the bargain when they serve him only the aromas of well-prepared food for dinner, with only the thought of music for entertainment. Ethiopian words are well defined by context, thus lending verisimilitude to the text. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)