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Cristina Kessler

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Release of Our Secret, Siri Aang
Monday, September 27, 2004  7:20:00 AM

by Cristina Kessler

Young Adult/Teen
Twelve-year-old Namelok can''t tell anyone about her secret: a mother black rhino and her tiny baby, whom she found in the bush while collecting firewood for her Maasai family. She vows to protect them always, visit them often, and to keep them her secret.

Her visits are suddenly threatened when her initiation into womanhood becomes immimnent. There will be no more visiting the rhinos after that. Ever. Still, Maasai ways are changing. Can Namelok delay the initiation?

But before she can, Namelok makes a horrifying discovery, one that sends her on a dangerous journey into the bush in a desperate search for poachers and a limping man whose dragging footprints are her only chance at seeking revenge...

Award-winning author Cristina Kessler brings her firsthand knowledge and love of Africa to this powerful and authentic story of a young Maasai girl''s courage to challenge tradition and to accept her dynamic role in a changing Maasai world.

Namelok stopped to catch her breath. The white sky hugged the searing heat that danced on the horizon. A somber silence filled the bush, leaving only the sound of her heartbeat banging in her chest. Knowing that she was running out of time was only part of her problem. She needed to know that the rhinos were safe.

As she raced past a fallen log covered in termite hills, she pleaded, “Please, Enkai, let Emuny Narok and Siri Aang be there, waiting for me. I really need their company today. I really need to know that they are well.”

She also needed every possible minute with them. She sucked in her bottom lip at the thought of the changes coming in her life. Stopping suddenly, she held her hands over her eyes to cut the glare, searching the horizon.

That’s when she saw the vultures.
They were jumping up off the ground, their huge wings flapping and their gnarly clawed feet fighting midair. One ran wildly after all the others, chasing about like a frenzied mother trying to save a child. Four birds flew off, apparently full and fed up with the greedy one. They fell into the vulture routine of circling high up, riding thermals when possible and flapping slowly when it wasn’t. She knew there must be a kill on the ground, for that was the only reason vultures gathered to lurk and fight.

Without thinking about what other scavengers might be there, such as hyenas or jackals or wild African dogs, Namelok charged straight at the spot. She hadn’t run so long or so fast since she and Loitipitip had chased the zebras and wildebeest as herders. She waved her arms and screamed and ran harder. Tears were flowing down her face, for without seeing what lay ahead, she already knew.

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 More News about Cristina Kessler
More Good News! - 4/6/2010 8:23:00 AM

Great News! - 4/6/2010 8:17:00 AM

Newest book released - 4/22/2009 10:16:00 AM

Award for Our Secret, Siri Aang - 4/5/2005 8:09:00 AM

Starred review - Booklist - 12/11/2004 6:45:00 AM

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