From School Library Journal
Grade 4–6—In pre-Castro Cuba, wealthy Don Rigol exerts almost total control over his rural town. However, when he lays claim to a mountain that the villagers consider theirs and starts clearing the jungle for his coffee plantation, he encounters unexpected opposition. Ernestina, a classmate of Rigol's spoiled daughter, joins her friend Enriquito in efforts to save the wild horses on the mountain. They soon realize that Rigol's real goal is to locate the gold mentioned in Taino legend. Inspired by visions and fueled by ingenuity and daring, the friends uncover the truth about the boy's family history and Rigol's deceptions. Among the more dramatic moments of their adventures are Enriquito's escape from jail and Ernestina's encounter with a huge cayman guarding the treasure. The story intersperses episodes of magical realism with routine adventure sequences. However, there is never any doubt that the children will manage to foil Don Rigol's plans, a task they accomplish with the help of a number of adults from the village and from Havana. A book for libraries in which there is exceptional interest in stories set in Cuba or tales of eco-triumph.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Two young friends, Ernestina and Enriquito, growing up in prerevolutionary Cuba, are determined to save some wild horses from the powerful landowner, Don
Rigol, who runs the town and is clearing the horses' wilderness home to make room for his coffee plantation. At school the two must confront Rigol's arrogant, bullying daughter, whose gold necklace, it turns out, was stolen from Enriquito's mother. With lots of magical realism, the plot is heavily contrived. Tricksters, real and magical, help Enriquito escape from prison and Ernestina from the jaws of a Cayman alligator, and in a climactic court scene, the kids rouse the people to defy the corrupt authority. But in this debut novel by Cuban American Flores-Galbis, the good guys are sweet and funny, the bad are absurd, the action is nonstop, and the urgent conservation issues will strike a chord with kids everywhere. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved