Title: On Viney's Mountain
Author: Joan Donaldson
Publisher: Holiday House
Concepts: natural resources, human resources, economics of gender, property rights, producers, interdependence
Review: Viney despised the young British men who had come to her beloved mountain to clear the trees for their new utopian settlement. In her eyes, their soft hands, lack of farming skills, meager knowledge of animal husbandry, and poor work ethic were no match for the rugged demands of Tennessee's Cumberland Mountains. Even worse, they did not respect the ways of the mountain people and made no effort to harvest new trees or transplant the herbs and plants that they so rudely trampled. She would do everything in her power, even if it involved pranks that her conscience told her were wrong, to sabotage their efforts and make these foolhardy immigrants return back home.
Strong-headed in all ways, Viney also rebelled against the traditional expectations that she marry young, have lots of children, and spend the rest of her life working hard to serve her family. Instead, she lived for the splendor of the mountain and longed for the freedom to work her loom and make the beautiful weavings that she was so skilled at making. Little did she realize that the plot she drummed up to fool her pesky relatives into thinking she was romantically involved with one of the Englishmen would backfire in an unexpected way, and that the initial growth of the settlement would lead to new opportunities to sell her handicrafts for cash.
On Viney's Mountain offers an old-fashioned love story wrapped around a plot based on some fundamental economic principles. The protection of natural resources, the development of farming and herding skills, the requirements for establishing a lumber industry, and conflicts over the distribution of property rights are all important economic ideas that the author uses to motivate the storyline. A fiercely independent and incredibly stubborn lead female character further contributes to the potency of this richly-satisfying work of historical fiction.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children