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
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.