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2019 - Shortlisted
When Ellie’s grandfather dies on Spit Farm, the curse of the button box is unleashed. Crops thrive at the sound of this musical instrument, but it also turns the promising boy Luca greedy and cruel. Ellie’s quest is to return the button box to its origin in the mystical Gleam country, to cure her beloved Oma’s sickness, and perhaps uncover the truth of her own parentage. Her companion, the talking nanny goat, tells her a frame story about wandering goat-herders. Ellie perseveres, despite her misshapen foot and other challenges, meeting enigmatic characters such as the way-lady who draws dirt maps. The journey ends with a thrilling climax on Gleam mountain.
In the quest story tradition, this book includes a map, difficult decisions, and a heroine who learns and grows. Shine Mountain is enriched with inventive vocabulary and a memorable landscape. The theme of the people’s yearning for a rainman to break the terrible drought makes it especially relevant to readers here and now.