Disgusted and embarrassed by how most American reality television shows make us look like conceited and materialist idiots to the rest of the world, I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the television show “Meerkat Manor.” Obviously, the Meerkats are portrayed as having their own issues to deal with, but I still found the show refreshing, even if there were moments that brought tears to my eyes.
In writing “Sun Child,” the author Kristin Downs looked to the Kalahari Meerkat Project and “Meerkat Manor” for inspiration. Having enjoyed the show, I found myself enjoying the book even more, because in this fictional account, we get to visit the mysterious land of the meerkats through their eyes. In “Sun Child,” the meerkats have a belief in a higher power that presents itself as light. They also have loyalties to their clans and rivalries that often result in fighting to the death. No matter which clan they are in, they are under constant threat by dangerous predators that always seem to be lurking nearby.
The story begins with a meerkat pup named Masada who tragically becomes separated from his Kivuli clan. Taken in and raised by a rival Isibani clan, Masada has to overcome the prejudices of many of its members before he can be completely accepted. This is not an easy task for him, but time and time again he proves his loyalty. Within him he also carries the desire to somehow, someday find peace between the two rival clans. The older generations are not so accepting of this idea however, it appears that in time the younger generations might find living in peace, while respecting each other’s space as a more acceptable way to live. In the long run, Masada will also have to decide which clan he truly belongs to, and it appears that his heart will make the ultimate decision for him.
I highly recommend reading “Sun Child” for readers who are either fans of “Meerkat Manor” or looking for something uniquely different to read. I believe that this book would also be an excellent selection for a high school reading list. Students will find themselves captivated by the story. I sure did!
Sun Child: A Meerkat’s Tale
Trafford Publishing (2010)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (8/11)