HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Golden Impala
Author: Pamela Ropner
Illustrator: Ralph Thompson
Publisher: Criterion Books, 1958
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 12-16
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Ropner, Pamela. The Golden Impala (originally published in 1957 by Rupert Hart-Davis; republished in 1958 by Criterion Books Inc., New York City, NY). Twelve year old Peter Ward lives in Thabankwe House on the Taluki Game Reserve in the bushveldt of southern Africa where his father Hector Ward, a former hunter, is warden. One night, when a herd of impala comes near the house, an unusual occurrence indeed, Peter sees a special impala shining with a soft golden light. The old native gardener Jabula explains that according to African legend the Golden Impala, or Okhanyayo, appears only when the impala are in danger and will save them with the help of a white boy known as Okhethiwe or the Chosen One.
And other strange things are happening. Peter overhears an odd-sounding conversation between two visitors at Umsinsi Rest Camp. He learns that a scientist in nearby Johannesburg is exploring the possible scientific value of rare glandular secretions found only in certain African animals but finds all his papers stolen. It is then reported massive herds of impala are invading the game reserves and that in other places there is a great increase in game poaching so that the impala are now in danger of extinction. All this information puts Peter’s life in jeopardy. Will he be able to help solve the problem? Or will he perhaps end up losing his life?
I grew up watching Tarzan, Bomba, Sheena, Jungle Jim, and Ramar, so I have always had a fascination for adventure stories set in Africa. Pamela Christine Ropner (1931–2013) was a British author. The Golden Impala does a good job of picturing what life must have been like on the African bush in a previous era. A couple of common euphemisms (gosh, darned) are each used once. Some references to smoking and one to drinking millet beer occur. And there is some superstitious African mysticism woven into the plot, but it is more along the lines of fantasy than actual occultism. This kind of tale may not appeal to everyone, but I enjoyed the excitement and suspense.