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Secret of the Andes    by Ann Nolan Clark order for
Secret of the Andes
by Ann Nolan Clark
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 1976 (1952)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Secret of the Andes is a charming tale for younger teens about Cusi, a llama herder in a mountain valley high in the Andes ... 'always a little hungry, always a little cold, always a little lonely.' He lives with old Chuto and delights in watching people 'in the deep, deep valley so far below.' Then a minstrel visits, playing on his panpipes, and Cusi leaves the humming llamas, greets the sun and journeys to find what lies over the swinging bridge beyond the Hidden Valley.

Cusi and Chuto travel to the Valley of Salt, where they scoop out and evaporate brine. They meet Indian and Spanish people and Cusi sees a truck for the first time. Then they return home and Cusi is left with his memories while he and Chuto tend and shear their llamas - 'he strung them along on a string of thinking, each happening a knot on the string, each knot a memory.'

Amauta comes to the Hidden Valley to train Cusi in the History of the Ancients, the secrets of the stars and use of the quipu cord. But no-one tells him his own history, a question that stalks his days and haunts his dreams. Cusi follows black llama Misti to find a pair of golden sandals, a sign that he must go to Cuzco to find his true desire. He follows his heart and finds a flute, a secret and the Inca's Blessing.

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