Title: Secret of the Saltilfa
Author: Ted M. Dunagan
Publisher: Junebug Books
Concepts: segregation, racial inequality, money, incentives
Review: Despite the South's institutionalized segregation during the 1940s, Ted and Poudlum had remained friends and understood each other so well that they could communicate through their eyes alone. They lived within walking distance from each other but had to attend separate schools. Thus a plan to camp out at the local fishing hole during the Thanksgiving weekend served as a much-anticipated opportunity to spend some time together.
Perhaps because these boys seemed to attract adventure as honey attracts flies, two renegade bank robbers in search of a warm fire and some food rudely interrupted the boys' fishing trip. Fortunately the robbers did not harm the boys and even told Ted and Poudlum a riddle as to where they had stashed the money. This encounter left the boys with a host of challenges, not least of which involved figuring out how to escape and who they could trust with this valuable knowledge.
With the boys' cascading exploits and the deep historical context, this novel cleverly wraps an important lesson about segregation and racial inequality into an enjoyable story. The reader is reminded that money can serve as a powerful incentive, especially for two steadfast friends with some inside information as to where it may be hidden.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children