Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda, paperback, 138 pages, first published in 1993, this edition was published by Omnibus Books (part of the Scholastic Group) in 2005.
Rowan is a young boy, living in the little village of Rin with his mother, Jiller and his younger sister, Annad. Rowan is a caring, quiet, and shy boy, different to the other children of Rin. He is thought of as a weakling by many of the other villagers, who do not understand him. His job is to tend to the Bukshah, the gentle beasts that provide milk and wool to the people of Rin.
When the stream from the mountain that supplies the drinking water for the bukshah ceases to flow, the villagers are concerned, their lives depend on the bukshah. They must climb the mountain to discover the cause of the interrupted flow. Unexpectedly, Rowan must join the party of villagers chosen to embark upon this quest. They have a map to guide them, but it is full of riddles, and the path is full of dangers. And at the top of the mountain there is rumoured to be a dragon. Rowan and his companions have a frightening and arduous journey ahead, but they all must be brave and continue on regardless of any possible obstacles in order to restore the flow of water down the mountain. Rowan doubts he is up to the task at hand, but he sets out on the adventure of his life to save the bukshah and the village of Rin.
While this book is aimed at middle primary school children, I still love this story as an adult. It’s got adventure, fantasy, anticipation, riddles, and a dragon! I read this with my second grader, and she also loved the story. Each riddle gave us a great opportunity to discuss what it meant, and talk about what we thought might happen next in the story, and how it might affect the characters. It is very well written, and it is easy to bring Rowan and his traveling companions to life. I highly recommend this book for any child looking for a good adventure story.
Rowan of Rin won The Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Younger Readers category in 1994.