Sun Child: A Meerkat's Tale
by Kristin Downs
Trafford Publishing

"Life gives us many tests, and we can only pass them by being strong and by staying as a family."

Disney's 1994 animated film The Lion King brought to life a snappy, comical meerkat named Timon. Descended from the mongoose, these agile hunters live and work in colonies. They are extremely territorial and particularly intolerant of encroachment from their own kind. Under this premise, Kristin Downs offers a charming fictional story about two warring meerkat clans. Masada, a young Kivuli pup, wonders about the rise and fall of "The Great Star." His curiosity gets him separated from his family, and ultimately he is taken in by the enemy Isibani clan and raised as their own. Emotions run high along this journey as characters confront sibling rivalry, parental indifference, and life or death consequences in the Kalahari. As circumstances give rise to battle, Masada faces a soul-searching dilemma in choosing between his adoptive family and his original bloodline.

Against this desert backdrop, Downs showcases nature's harshness and beauty. The sun is worshipped as a God, but a solar eclipse event and the subsequent loss of a pup place one meerkat matriarch at odds with this higher power. From waves of grass providing enemy cover, to the thunderous walk of elephants, "the moving mountains of the earth," Downs creates a vivid portrait of the unpredictable African terrain. Teasing descriptions and words rooted in mythology lend a playful touch to the narrative, The author cleverly unlocks a landscape crossed by snakes and jackals, as well as lions and giraffes. Some prove a threat to the meerkats' survival.

Downs found inspiration for Sun Child in the Kalahari Meerkat Project and through the creators of Animal Planet's popular Meerkat Manor series. Like traditional fables, the focus here is on the moral compass of these funny creatures as they tackle common questions that could be translated to the problems of humankind. This is an adventurous tale for young and old that results in a wise and peaceable message.

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