August 3, 2015
The Flight of the Cliff Bird by Leslie J. Wyatt
The Flight of the Cliff Bird
by Leslie J. Wyatt
Royal Fireworks Press
Life isn’t easy in the cliff dwellings along the edge of the green mesa, but it is the life that Cliff Bird and her family know and love. Cliff Bird lives with her Grandmother and helps the village women grind corn and takes her turn chasing birds out of the fields.
Cliff Bird loves to run along the top of the mesa, pushing herself to flow like the wind. When she and her cousins, Summer Sky and Mesa Flower learn basket weaving and pottery making, Cliff Bird learns that her fingers are as swift and nimble as her legs. Her baskets and pots are graceful and pleasing and the potter compares her work to that of her father.
But mentions of her father are bitter sweet. A runner, he left several years ago to carry news to other pueblos. Why has he not returned? Cliff Bird worries he has died. Summer Sky’s father says that he did not love her enough to come back. Why are he and his wife so mean since her mother has
The life that Wyatt describes in this book will be new and strange to young readers who know nothing of the cliff dwellings. That said, she describes the mesa, the pueblos and the kiva so vividly that readers will easily picture the world she paints.
As strange as the details may seem, readers will easily identify with Cliff Bird who yearns for love and approval even as she learns to connect with Summer Sky whose life may not be as easy as Cliff Bird once assumed.
This is a young middle grade story. Although Cliff Bird worries about what will become of her and her people if they must leave the pueblo, it is not as angst ridden as a young adult story might be and it ends with a strong note of hope. No matter where they ended up, for the people did eventually abandon the cliff dwellings, they left together.