Steve Lyon, Author . Houghton $15 (230p) ISBN 978-0-618-39128-8

Set in the future, Lyon's imaginative debut novel alternates between the perspectives of a weaving apprentice and a young baker. When Path Down the Mountain (or Path) leaves her sheep-herding family to work for a renowned weaver, she meets Bird Speaks (called Bird), who works with his mother and sister in the neighboring bakery. The two teens begin spending time together, angering Path's strict boss, Heron ("Every hour, every minute, you are mine," Heron scolds her) but also allowing Path to finally begin to talk about the dark secret in her past. Some of the author's imaginings are hard to believe, such as boats that grow from seeds, but mostly readers will be drawn into his post-materialistic world, where cats talk, batteries grow on trees and money is irrelevant (instead, people trade, saying "the gift moves" when they make an offering). Some of the details about weaving are complex, but readers will find it easy to understand Bird's longing for a life bigger than baking, Path's fear of letting anyone into her heart—and their often dramatic relationship. Tensions mount for all as Midsummer Day approaches (at this big festival, everyone empties their lives by bringing what they have to eat, give or burn in a big fire because, as Bird explains, "without the empty place, there would be no gift the next year"). The author (who is married to writer George Ella Lyon) constructs a clever, satisfying resolution, perfectly in line with the well-crafted plot. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 05/10/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Children's
Mass Market Paperbound - 230 pages - 978-0-553-49494-5
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