Cover image for Blue Mountain
Blue Mountain
Leavitt, Martine, 1953- , author.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Margaret Ferguson Books, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2014.
Physical Description:
164 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
"Tuk, a bighorn sheep of the Canadian Rockies, leads his herd beyond the snares of man and the wiles of predators to the freedom of the Blue Mountain"--
Reading Level:
770 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.0 4.0 174594.
Format :


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Tuk the bighorn sheep is told he will be the one to save his herd, but he is young and would rather play with his bandmates than figure out why the herd needs saving. As humans encroach further and further into their territory, there is less room for the sheep to wander, food becomes scarce, and the herd's very survival is in danger. Tuk and his friends set out to find Blue Mountain, a place that Tuk sometimes sees far in the distance and thinks might be a better home. The journey is treacherous, filled with threatening pumas and bears and dangerous lands, leading Tuk down a path that goes against every one of his instincts. Still, Tuk perseveres, reaching Blue Mountain and leading his herd into a new, safe place.

Author Notes

Martine Leavitt has written several award-winning novels for young adults, including My Book of Life by Angel, which garnered five starred reviews and was an Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist; Keturah and Lord Death , a finalist for the National Book Award; and Heck Superhero , a finalist for the Governor General's Award. She lives in Alberta, Canada.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Tuk is the biggest bighorn sheep born in his herd for years, and the matriarch of their herd predicts great things for him, particularly when he spots the storied Blue Mountain in the distance, a legendary peak where it's rumored that no humans live. When resources in their usual territory dwindle, and buildings and roads encroach on their mountain valleys, Tuk convinces a small band of bighorns, each with a distinct personality and voice, to make the risky trek to the blue, snow-covered peak. In spare, lyrical language recalling classic folktales, Leavitt tells the story of Tuk's journey, including run-ins with deadly predators and dangerous environments. Tuk faces each obstacle with bravery and cleverness, outsmarting haughty animals to safely bring each bighorn to the beautiful mountain, which is exactly as idyllic as the stories say. With a quiet tone and deliberate pace punctuated by moments of tense action, this will likely be a good fit for fans of animal stories, such as Jean Craighead George's Ice Whale (2014).--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Tuk is a bighorn sheep, born to lead his herd at a time when they are threatened by predators and a decreased food supply. He is one of the few sheep to have glimpsed the fabled Blue Mountain-"The stories say that there the meadows are knee-deep in grass, the streams are never dry, and that man never goes there"-and he believes that moving there is the key to saving the bighorn. Others in the herd disagree, but Tuk is guided by the stories of his ancestors, legends Leavitt (My Book of Life by Angel) intersperses throughout the text, and he sets off with a band of followers to find Blue Mountain. Challenges and obstacles arise, but Tuk meets them all, growing into a true leader. The lyrical prose and gravity of Tuk's quest lend a mythic feel to this memorable and graceful story, which also examines violence and environmental concerns. Readers will see parts of themselves in Tuk as he struggles to form his identity and accept his limitations. Ages 8-12. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-Tuk may not have a golden fleece, but in this middle grade novel about bighorn sheep, he is the golden child: one who will lead his herd to better grazing grounds. Larger and stronger than others born his year, Tuk can see a promised land-a blue mountain over the horizon, where man has not yet encroached. His vision is put to the test when the herd's winter feeding grounds are paved over and Tuk must lead a small band of bighorn sheep to this storied place. With his guidance, the sheep overcome the many obstacles in their path, including steep trails, bogs, men, wolverines, bears, pumas, clever otters, and wolves. While some of the animal characters lack depth, kids will nevertheless be caught up  in the thrilling adventure. An author's note explains how Leavitt was inspired to write this story based on her father's studies of the breed and her own research. This uncomplicated story would pair well with a factual book on bighorn sheep and the alpine biome.-Marie Drucker, Malverne Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



TUK Tuk was born in the snow and wind of early spring. He was the biggest lamb born on the lambing cliffs that season, and for seasons out of memory. Gradually, over the generations, bighorns had been getting smaller, but Tuk was a reminder of the herd's former days of greatness. Soon after his birth Tuk stood on shaky legs. Before the day was out he could run and leap small leaps and keep up with his mother, Pamir, as she grazed on the sparse grasses of the rocky heights. "Who are we?" he asked Pamir. "We are the bighorn," she replied. "We live on the mountain's high places, above where most animals can live, above even where the trees can grow." "Bighorn?" Tuk said. "But your horns are small." "That is because I am a female," said Pamir. "But you are a male, and when you are grown, a ram, you will have big horns. You will use them only in sport, to prove you are strong enough to father the lambs." Two other males, Ovis and Rim, were also born on the lambing cliffs that spring, as well as four females: Nai, Mouf, Sto, and Dall. The nursery band ran and jumped and butted one another playfully. They ran faster each day, zig, zag, darting through the legs of their mothers, and from one end of the meadow to the other. Though Ovis was a good climber, Tuk was at least as good and sometimes could go even higher. They ran races, and though Rim often won, Tuk was almost as fast, and sometimes faster. Nai was graceful and could jump far, but Tuk could jump, too, and sometimes farther. Mouf asked many questions, and Tuk was the one who searched out the answers. Sto was quiet and timid and did not like to venture far from her mother, but sometimes Tuk could persuade her to play. Dall was calm and steady. She was the one who decided they had explored a patch of grass enough, and when she sought out a new patch, they all followed. She would only wait for one, and that was Tuk. After a few days, Pamir said to Tuk, "Tomorrow we return to the main herd. Before we go, I must teach you the most important thing about the bighorn. Listen, and I will tell you an old story." When the mountain first created the deer, she said, "Consider my austere beauty. You may have it for your own." The deer said, "The mountain is too rocky and forbidding. We would rather have the lowlands and the brooks, and the woods to hide in, and antlers with which to fight our enemies." And so the mountain gave them their desire. Then the mountain created the elk and said, "Ponder well my severe beauty. You may have it for your own." The elk said, "We do not want the mountain. It is too steep and cold and craggy. Give us the hills and the valleys and the rushing creeks, and give us bigger antlers even than the deer with which to fight our enemies." And so the mountain gave them their desire. When the mountain made Lord Denu, the first of the bighorn, she said to him, "I am rocky and forbidding. I am steep and cold and craggy, but do I not have my own beauty? Will you be the one to have it?" "Yes," Denu said, "we will, because from the top we can see the lowlands and the brooks and the woods. We can see the hills and the valleys and the rushing creeks. We can see the world." The mountain was so pleased with Denu's answer that she gave him tricky feet so he could scale the steep places nimbly. She gave him strong jaws and bowels so he could eat the forage that grew out of the mountain. She gave him horns that were thicker and stronger and more powerful than the antlers of the deer and the elk together, but she called Denu the peaceable one. "Peaceable?" Tuk asked. "It meant we would survive because of our speed and agility on the heights, where predators cannot follow," Pamir explained. "We would thrive as a herd at peace with one another, and the bear and the puma and the wolf would see our great numbers and stay away. The mountain cannot be beautiful without us." Text copyright © 2014 by Martine Leavitt Excerpted from Blue Mountain by Martine Leavitt All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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