Archive for the ‘civil wars’ Category

I am not the first to think “Watership Down” for meerkats when reading this wonderful little book in which I learned much about meerkats and, through them, about people and their conflicts.

As the story begins, Sheena, a bobbed-tailed, black and white kitty hops onto her people’s Land Rover to make her third clandestine foray into Baragandiri National Park. She hops back into Great White when Dad drives off for firewood, only to be left in a dry section of the park, hoping to find her family before the campout ends in 10 days. Thirsty, she is sizing up an insect that looks juicy, when a young meerkat chomps down on it, getting stung at the same time by “Black Hairy Thick-Tail.” Pebble, the meerkat, begins to recite the bad, bad symptoms of scorpion bites while experiencing them simultaneously. Hum, hypochondriac meerkat? Pebbles is pretty funny and the humor builds until Sheena realizes that he really is in bad shape at about symptom seven. A second meerkat, Sandstepper, determines that Sheena has the makings of an excellent furry ambulance and they maneuver Pebbles onto her back. With that rescue, Sheena is welcomed into the Duwara tribe of the meerkats, who begin each joyous day in a sunbath, the Sunwake. The Duwara are at war with the Utongo who worship a better sun. The Utongo are out for revenge against the Duwara for delivering sickness into their tribe. They attack and kidnap the Duwara’s leaders’ three pups. Sheena slinks across the Gorge in a Bond-like mission to infiltrate the Utongos, figuring there has to be more to this conflict. Along the way, she encounters animal friends and foes, and limps to the Utongos with severe injuries. There she was nursed by Fara until… (Fara found it hard to finish…) Sheena noted that the tribes were so similar, soaking in the warmth of the sun each morning, caring for the newborns, hunting, sleeping habits, playing. She knows that there is one solution to end the war, but she had to get the warring tribes together to make it work. Sheena is one resourceful kitty.

Can we learn about peace from slim, crew-cut fur creatures? One can hope. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about meerkats and the ten other creatures of the Baragandiri. Humor, pathos, danger, The Meerkat Wars really has it all. This is the third book about courageous Sheena and her adventures in Baragandiri National Park.

ENDERS’ Rating: *****

I just enjoyed the tenth installment of “The Ranger’s Apprentice” series, touted as the final battle. Even though the series title is about the apprentice, I am impressed with how Flanagan maintains the ensemble of heroes sharing center stage throughout the series. And I like it! Halt, Will and Horace have such unique characteristics.

In this episode Horace has traveled to the far east to study the fighting techniques of the Senshi of Nihon-Ja. He becomes involved in a bloody civil war when a jealous Senshi lord marches through the country to take power and the life of the emperor, Shirgeru. Will, Halt and their very talented friends board the Skandian Wolfwill to assist. With only the emperor’s injured senshi and a passel of woodcutters and farmers they face the hordes in a last stand.

ENDERS’ Rating: *****

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We hear about young soldiers in wars far away from home, including mentally incompetent children with bombs strapped to their annihilation -ready bodies to transcribed teen soldiers to eight-year-olds learning war video games that happen to be real, as in Ender’s Game.

Ishmael’s story is far too real. Not long ago, in a country becoming not so far away, Ismael was swallowed up by the national army to fight Ghanan rebels. Tactics were pretty much the same, with only the leader uniforms differing.

He recalls happily traveling to the next town for a music competition in which he and his friends will rap, only to be refugees running on foot from place to place. Even then, few would help, as the reputations of boy soldiers preceded them, and they were feared by communities. Training is brief and thorough. His rapture with killing was palatable. When he and his companions were rescued to defuse and to reprogram back into young people, I could feel the agony of his withdrawal from violence.

Some have said that this story is too much for teens to handle. That isn’t my fear. I fear they will not read it and miss the point.

ENDERS Rating: Must read.

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