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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Mob - Book One of Feather and Bone: The Crow Chronicles

Reviewed: August 23, 2005
By: Clem Martini
Publisher: Kids Can Press
239 pages, $16.95

ďMove in, everyone. If you canít see me, you probably canít hear me either, so move in. Move up the tree, move up the trunk, move closer on the branch.Ē

With these words Kalum ru Kurea ru Kinaar invites us to join with the flock and hear the tale of this yearís momentous Gathering and the troubles it brought to the six Clans of the Family Kinaar.

A Gathering, as we humans would assume, is the annual migration of the clans, the time when the crows, along with many other species, head north, up along the coast and in through the mountain passes, heading steadily on until they reach the great Gathering Tree.

What do they do while they travel? The eldest among them tell stories, relating tales of Great Crow, of how he gave up his life to Badger in order to save his brood, and was reborn from one of the eggs he rescued.

Crows and Humans were not always as they are now, and one of Kalumís stories is of a contest judged by the Maker in which the current order was decided once and for all. No one really won this competition, which ran counter to the Makerís wishes. Humans were banished from the air as a result of losing, but Great Crow and all his descendants were reduced in size to what they are now as a punishment for the pride which caused him to compete against the Makerís command.

This enmity between man and his creatures and Crow kind is at the root of the trouble that overtakes the Clan not long after they reach the Gathering Tree. That was not all, though. Itís no surprise that more pride would be involved. At 38, Kalum is beyond such displays, but he can understand the impulses which drive young Kyp, that made him tease the Red, a predatory cat who lives with a human family near the Tree. Many things would flow from Kypís action, including the death of a youngling, his own temporary banishment, the beginnings of a relationship, and a way of salvation for the Clan when an even worse tragedy strikes.

Where do you go when youíre a crow and storm blows over your Gathering Tree? Suddenly the clan finds itself in the midst of an epic, which will be worth the telling if enough of them should happen to survive it, in which the wisdom of the elders has to be combined with the brashness of youth to find solutions that lead to their survival.

The Mob is a delightful blend of adventure and mythology, told in a voice that makes it all seem believable. Thereís a hint of First Nations mythology about the book which suits the subject matter nicely. The stories Kalum tells actually having a bearing on the real world tale taking place as the Clan travels, so that we are primed to anticipate certain responses and to understand the motivations of the major characters when we need to. And of course, any book that features talking animals canít help but making a few pointed observations about mankind and hat we have done with the world we dominate.

The Mob is a skillfully written story, and Iím looking forward to the second and third installments.

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