I am part of the WLC Review program, and I`m going to be honest; this book wasn`t one that I had chosen to read, but it was directed to me. Then, no matter what I did I couldn`t get the file to download on my kindle so I went to Amazon and bought it for .99 and presto it was there. I dutifully started to read it, and then guess what! I found a treasure. I fell in love with it.
It starts out with a scene around a fire pit; an old man is sitting there with his eyes closed. Children begin tiptoeing into the clearing, waiting patiently in the silence (hey, can you imagine this happening in today`s world? There is very little chance of it; at the very least you would hear the click, click of their fingers on the keys of their smart phone as they texted the kid sitting next to them!) But these children sit with their hearts thudding at the pops and murmurs of the wood on the fire, respectfully waiting.
Opening his eyes, the old man stares at each child with a dark and distant look. Then he begins the story, his words becoming visions.
The visions unfold as he tells the story of Naa'ki, a young native boy, who is kidnapped by a mother eagle. She carries him to her nest where he is destined to become a meal for her baby eaglets. When the boy reminds her that eagles don't eat humans, she says that her family is starving because man has been greedy, taking what he wants indiscriminately. He gives no thought to how he upsets the balance of nature and no understanding or caring for how his actions affect the other creatures that share the earth with him.
Naa'ki points out that if she feeds him to her eaglets, he will be dead; they will be full today but tomorrow they will be hungry again. He bargains with her; if she spares his life, he will work with her to help save her chicks. He will use the skills he has learned from his people and help her catch fish for them all.
Mother eagle doesn't trust man, but Naa'ki is a child. She will give him a chance and he lives up to his part of the bargain. He misses his family, but he finds a different view of the surrounding world here and he is overwhelmed with awe. He could not have imagined this world outside his village.
He bonds with the eaglets, recognizing their individual personality traits (which are basically comparable to some of the differences in human personalities too). One is aggressive, looking out for himself. The other is sneaky and Naa'ki has to be aware of him because he will sneak in behind him and peck at him. The third one is his favourite; a happy playful little creature.
As his time with the eagles passes by, he watches the different stages of their lives. Eventually their different personality traits affect the way each one of them develops. They also affect how each of the eaglets, who are grown and flying on their own by then, are able to help him in the last flight of his journey.
When the salmon come to the river to spawn, Naa'ki sees his fellow man's actions from the eagle's point of view. He vows to go back to his people and explain how they must change what they do, so all can share the bounty and live. They will not listen to him.
He returns to the eagle family and decides he must do one more dramatic thing to convince his people. With the help of the eagles and his determination to succeed, he achieves his goal. He injures his leg in the process, but his people converse among themselves, negotiate and finally accept the truth of what he shows them.
At the end of the story, the old man finishes his tale and the children memorise it so they can pass it on to their future children and grand children.
The old man limps away from the fire and stops as an eagle lands on a nearby branch. Their eyes meet for a moment. The old man smiles and shuffles into the darkness; the boy who flew with the eagles has told his story so it can be carried on down to the future generations.
Each reader finds his own meaning in what they read. To me this book is a parable. It is a message in story form that demonstrates the need for sharing with the other creatures that live on this earth with us humans. It demonstrates the need to work together, caring for each other, the earth and the other animals that depend on nature's bounty to survive. Animals are driven by hunger. Man is too often driven by power and greed, taking for himself without consideration for the needs of others.
But there is also hope; as Naa'ki was forced to bargain for his life and learn to see things from a different perspective, there are also individuals who will accept responsibility to make change and take the risks involved to drive the point home.
That message of sharing, caring and respect for ourselves, as well as the earth and its creatures, needs to be passed on to the next generation, so they can pass it on again, down the lineage of our civilization.
I loved this little book, and I will share it with my grand children. Sadly, I didn't find it in paperback. I would like to have donated one to the local school.