HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Daughter of the Mountains
Author: Louise Rankin
Illustrator: Kurt Weise
Publisher: Puffin Books, reissued 1993
ISBN-13: 978-0670257881 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0670257885 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0140363357 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0140363351 Paperback
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Rankin, Louise. Daughter of the Mountains (Published in 1948 by Viking Juvenile, a division of The Viking Press; republished in 1993 by Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Books USA Inc., a division of The Penguin Group, 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). Twelve year old Momo Tundroop lives in the little village of Longram near where the Chumbi River flows from the top of the Jelep La Pass in the mountains of Tibet, with her father Nema, who carries the mail over the mountains, her mother, who keeps a little tea shop in their home, and her two younger brothers. Ever since she was four years old, Momo has always wanted a red-gold Lhasa terrier, a dog like the one owned by the head lama at the Kargayu monastery which she saw at the Red Hat Festival. Then, when she is nine, her dream is realized as a trader named Urtken brings just such a dog to her parents’ house and gives it to her. She names it Pempa.
However, a few years later, another trader passing through steals the valuable dog and quickly escapes with it into the mountains on his way to sell Pempa in Calcutta, India. Momo is determined to follow the Great Trade Route across the dangerous mountains of Tibet to the city of Calcutta to catch them and recover her beloved Pempa. Will she make it all the way to Calcutta? If so, does she find her stolen dog? And how can they get back home? In addition to the exciting adventures which Momo experiences on her journey, Daughter of the Mountains, which was a 1949 Newbery Honor Book, contains a lot of interesting information about the geography, history, and culture of both Tibet and India.
One reader reviewer did not like the book, calling it “Everything you would not want your child to do” and saying that the “protagonist runs away from home and trusts a wide variety of creepy strangers without any lessons ever learned.” But remember that this book is about a different time, a different place, and a different kind of society. This reviewer also wrote, “The main character wrestles with very confused religious ideas, which the author seems to have muddled in her own mind as well.” It is true that Momo’s father is a loyal Buddhist while her mother learned about the one true God while growing up as a serving maid in the household of a wealthy wool merchant. But all that is simply part of the cultural background of the story. Another reviewer noted that “the author does a great job describing the people Momo meets and the villages she passes through on her way down the mountains.” I agree.