Secret of the Andes

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Secret of the Andes
Secret of the Andes.jpg
First edition
Author Ann Nolan Clark
Illustrator Jean Charlot
Country United States
Language English
Genre Children's novel Historical Fiction
Publisher Viking Press
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 120
ISBN 0140309268

Secret of the Andes is a children's novel by Ann Nolan Clark. It won the 1953 Newbery Medal.

Plot summary[edit]

Cusi, a modern Inca boy, leaves his home high in the Andes mountains to learn the mysterious secret of his ancient ancestors. Accompanied by his pet llama, Misti, he slowly discovers the truth about his birth and his people's ancient glory. Now he must prove himself worthy to be entrusted with the fabulous secret from the past.[1]

Historical accuracy[edit]

Secret of the Andes is historical fiction. Some events were inspired by real events in history. In reality, the Inca King (Ataulpa) at one time was held for ransom by the Spaniards. However, llamas were not a part of the ransom, and the form of the gold was primarily solid, not gold dust. [2]


Themes of Secret of the Andes include racial identity, preservation of historical cultures, adoption, animal guides, royal lineage, and the Spanish conquest and betrayal of the Incan Empire.

Newbery Medal[edit]

E. B. White's Charlotte's Web was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal the year Secret of the Andes won the award.[3] According to a 2008 article by children's literature expert Anita Silvey in the School Library Journal, one member of the Newbery committee stated that she voted for Secret of the Andes rather than Charlotte's Web "because she hadn't seen any good books about South America." Silvey further commented, "The Secret of the Andes is a good book; Charlotte's Web, the best."[4]


  1. ^ Clark, Ann (1976). Secret of the Andes. Puffin. pp. Opening Text. ISBN 0140309268. 
  2. ^ Innes, Hammond (1969). The Conquistadors. HarperCollins. ISBN 0002111454. 
  3. ^ Strauss, Valerie (December 16, 2008). "Critics Say Newbery-Winning Books Are Too Challenging for Young Readers". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 2, 2012. 
  4. ^ Silvey, Anita (October 1, 2008). "Has the Newbery Lost Its Way?". School Library Journal. Retrieved January 4, 2017. 
Preceded by
Ginger Pye
Newbery Medal recipient
Succeeded by
...And Now Miguel