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Baktar, a Tale from the Andes Review by Susan K. Marlow

Laurie J. White
The Shorter Word Press
1345 Butler Bridge Rd.
Covington, GA 30016

Baktar is not your common house cat . . .
In reality, the lead character in Baktar, a Tale of the Andes is a Royal Black Tarquoia, a mythical feline species that supposedly lived among the ancient Incas of Peru, high in the Andes Mountains. Baktar’s purpose in life is to watch over the High King of the Incas (in this case Pachacuti) and his family. During the course of this 98-page chapter book for ages 9-12, Baktar enjoys his own escapades as he keeps Princess Amasuwa company and “spies” on wicked and self-important Incan priests. The Tarquoia (who looks and acts suspiciously like an ordinary black cat) senses a lurking evil growing around his king, for Pachacuti, ninth king of the Inca Empire, has been asking questions—dangerous and empire-altering questions. Which god is the true god, and might there be just one God? The Incan priests do not want to hear this!
Baktar, a Tale from the Andes is a story within a story. The Incan tale is framed by a modern-day story of a tiny black kitten and his human family. Little “Tar” sometimes does strange things, like rattling pencils at night. Could he be a descendant of the Royal Black Tarquoias, who communicated by striking sticks together?
This easy-to-read story is packed full of interesting and true historical tidbits about the ancient Incas. Throughout the story I kept wondering if Tarquoias were real, as well. The author kept me guessing as she weaved this enjoyable tale about a “might have been” long ago. Indeed, the references to Pachacuti’s search for the one true God is well-documented. The story of this Incan king’s conversion to Viracocha, the only God, is found in one of the author’s cited resource books,Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson, which I have read.
Baktar, a Tale from the Andes, is a good novel to include in your study of early cultures, especially the ancient peoples of South America. In addition to the glossary and author’s note at the back of the book, a website is available for further study. The author, Laurie White, is a home school mom who knows how to put together related topics to generate interest and enhance student learning. Visit the “extras” for Baktar here: (There is even a picture of the real kitty, Tar, who was the catalyst for this imaginative tale).

I would definitely have appreciated this book when we were studying ancient civilizations. While obviously fiction (how many books are told from the point of view of a cat [Royal Black Tarquoia]?), it’s told in an interesting and entertaining way, and the opportunities for further study is a real draw.

Product review by Susan K. Marlow, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2008