Me'ma and the Great Mountain by Lorin Morgan-Richards is about little girl named Me'ma who lives in an oppressed village called Sunken Creek. Faced with removal, Me'ma brings to focus her extraordinary ability to see ghoulish characters who try to help her in overcoming the nightmare she and her people are facing from an evil tyrant. Includes a special foreword by Corine Fairbanks (Oglala Lakota).
A young girl named Me'ma makes a daring escape when the Baron's men invade her village. Aided by a wolf named Bright Eye and her two purple leaf dolls, Xetacu and Tchesue, she heads up the river toward the Great Mountain. Grandfather told her that the land beyond was beautiful, free from all cruelty. Me'ma decides this is the place she longs to settle and sets off with determination.
Along the way, she meets some interesting characters: a man with a head that tilts off, and needs to be held in place (he had been hanged), a woman whose body is split in two, and one half falls off the other when not belted securely (she had been sawed in half), and various mounted, stuffed, and skinned animals who have learned the ability to talk. And finally she meets the Baron and his henchmen, face to face, in a great showdown over the Serpent.
While Me'ma journeys toward the Great Mountain, her overriding concern is the for the native people, plants and animals of the area. Respecting nature comes easily to Me'ma, and she wants everyone to be treated safely and fairly. And since the Baron and the Serpent are the enemies of all, Me'ma particularly wants him stopped. Symbolizing the way native peoples were removed from their land, this story reminds us that nothing good can come from such violence. Me'ma and the Great Mountainis a lesson reminding us of our obligation to treat others with fairness and kindness, allowing all to remain free. Reviewer: Alice Berger
Me'ma and Bright Eye, her wolf companion, lived happily with her grandfather in Sunken Creek, their native village. He taught her about the meaning and value of the purple leaf tree in their lives. But the settlers had arrived and all but destroyed the purple leaf trees, except for those on the Great Mountain. Me'ma also learned she possesses the ability to communicate with animals and the spirit world, a gift from her ancestors. But she does not yet understand it. One terrifying day the evil Baron and his men arrive on horseback and destroy the village and capture the villagers. With the help of Bright Eye, Me'ma escapes with her two purple leaf dolls, Xetacu and Tchesue.
Thus begins Me'ma's amazing journey to find safety and a new life on the Great Mountain. Along the way she meets some unusual characters in the animal and spirit world and discovers the secrets of her own special gift. Adventure flows like a river as the struggles and courage of indigenous people are revealed through the eyes of one brave girl. "Me'ma and the Great Mountain" has plenty of humor and peril and peculiar characters to keep young readers fascinated - maybe even awestruck.
Reviewer: Peggy Tibbetts
The book is a heroic quest set against the backdrop of destructive colonialism, as a young girl is forced to flee her village home in the wake of greedy settlers mining in the nearby mountains. Here, the author represents vast numbers of real life displaced and annihilated indigenous people, but told through the eyes of a little girl named Me'ma. Morgan-Richards knows the best fantasy fiction isn't safe. His story tackles mature themes in a way that's accessible to youngsters, but doesn't candy-coat the topic. The author presents his themes3/4colonialism, exploitation, and environmentalism3/4in a graspable manner using fantastical characters and creatures. His world is one in which noble animals speak, and humans are often monstrous beasts.
While sophisticated youngsters can easily digest the adventure story, it also gives them much to think about in terms of responsible stewardship of the Earth and its inhabitants. To say that the author's ultimate goal is to instill empathy would not be far-fetched. Me'ma is a young villager from Sunken Creek, forced to flee when settlers destroy her home. Accompanied by her pint-sized living dolls, Xetacu and Tchesue, she sets off on a journey beyond the Great Mountain that overlooks their village. Me'ma and her companions hope to find safety beyond the mountain, but must brave the treacherous path through the grand purple mountain to get there. On the way they encounter many strange characters, some benevolent, others not to be trusted. Me'ma must also face the evil Baron, the man responsible for destroying her peoples' way of life. Only Me'ma's resolve can ensure that she and her companions overcome threatening obstacles to reach their destination. Although the story is suitable for children, the author's use of whimsical descriptions and simple dialogue never panders to his audience.
At times, Me'ma's journey gets a bit frightening. It would be best for especially sensitive kids if this story were shared with an adult. The world around the Great Mountain may be fantasy, but it's also very similar to our own. The Baron's settlers, in their haste to get rich, destroy the ecosystem and enslave the villagers. The symptoms of their way of life are stealing, lying, and violence. A train is seen as a large and hungry serpent, one that brings more settlers in as it takes resources out. It's certainly dark material, yet the author is able to find a successful balance to keep the story from being a discouraging bummer.