And the Waters Prevailed
On the eve of the Manhood Hunt, as Andor the Little suffers the taunts of the loutish Stor, he steels himself to succeed by the tribe's standards in the coming trial. By surviving in the wilderness naked, unarmed and alone, and returning clothed in the skin of an animal he has killed single-handed, each adolescent boy of this Stone Age tribe must prove himself worthy of being considered a man. Andor succeeds to the satisfaction of the elders, but knowing that his new-found friend, Kelan the Merry, has saved his life during a vicious wolf fight, Andor is plagued by doubt. Is he entitled to be hailed as Andor the Wolf-Killer? And does, it really matter whether or not he has killed a wolf?
His eager mind restless with frustration, Andor dreams of doing truly great things. He alone believes that all glorious deeds are not in the tribe's past, only to be relived in the chants of the old men. Hampered by the necessity for doing his share in the tribe's routine struggle for survival, Andor finds himself adapting to custom. He marries Bardis and for a time finds contentment in life with her, joy in the new home they have built, the son that is born to them. But the urgent restlessness returns and only his thoughts are free.
It is while on a reconnaissance trip with Kelan, when they have traveled for days toward the Blue Mountains, that Andor and his friend come accidentally on the great restless turmoil of the Atlantic Ocean, at the point where Gibraltar now rears out of the sea. Stunned by the magnitude of the discovery, Andor's mind gradually comprehends the threat embodied in this huge mass of water, held only by a feeble barrier of earth and rock high above the valley where his own village lies. That the water will break the barrier, flooding the helpless land below, Andor knows with burning certainty, but in his terror he believes that the danger is imminent, that the tribe must be warned immediately and persuaded to flee. This is his chance... the great deed for which he will be remembered. This marks the beginning of Andor's struggle to force comprehension on his people, none of whom is capable of grasping any but the most rudimentary thoughts and ideas.
The theme of this unusual story is an exciting one... the development of abstract thinking and the power to reason in a child of the Stone Age. There is a sweeping, timeless implication in the story of Andor, an undersized boy whose greatest strength was his mind, in a tribe where brutish physical prowess was considered the measure of a man. The setting is wildly majestic... that strip of land which is believed to have formed a bridge between Europe and Africa... that plain which is now inundated by the Mediterranean Sea.
Andor's story is one which will fire the imagination and haunt the dreams of all who read it.
Selected as one of the Notable Children's Books of the Year (1956) by the American Library Association.