Cover art by Catrin Welz-Stein.
This story of a crippled boy with stubborn resilience and unusual abilities takes place in a small mountain community near the coast of California mostly in 1906. Moojie is twice abandoned by parents. First, he’s dropped on a doorstep as an infant and adopted by a local couple. Moojie’s new mother dies a few years later, and when Moojie’s handicap—a leg that won’t function right and a weak arm—become evident, the boy is dumped at the goat farm of his grandfather, Pappy, in the nearby hills, and Moojie’s adoptive father disappears. Pappy is not thrilled to have the boy, and at first threatens to put him in an orphanage, but over time the two form a grudging partnership as Moojie begins to learn how to help with the farm and its animals. Moojie’s real interest, though, is a group of natives hiding out in the nearby hills who show up at the farm periodically when Pappy is not around. Moojie is fascinated by them; their stories, their activities, and their mysterious ways. He longs to join the band, but they are wary. Moojie longs for a mother like their elder, Ninti, has a crush on the beautiful Babylonia, and is constantly threatened with violence by her boyfriend Sarru’kan. One thing about Moojie that he doesn’t understand greatly impresses the natives, a sort of psychic healing power he can manifest in times of great need, though not on demand. In Moojie’s many adventures with the natives, Pappy, and the townsfolk, he has need of it from time to time, and it always shocks everyone. What will become of this strange boy? Will he be sent off to live with his Irish aunt who he does not like? Will he succeed in joining the native tribe before they are swept up in the holy rapture they feel is coming? Will his father finally return to claim him? This coming of age book, delightfully written, tells the tale beautifully with humor, poetic grace, and surprising characters and situations.