cover image The Fledglings

The Fledglings

Sandra Markle. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-07729-2

After her mother is killed by a drunk driver, orphaned Kate is supposed to join her censorious aunt and uncle and their two spoiled children. But then Kate overhears her neighbors having a very interesting conversation. It seems that Kate has a grandfather she has never known, that he's alive and well somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Cherokee, N.C., and that he has refused to take responsibility for her. Unfazed, Kate runs away and locates the man--a Cherokee Indian who's none too pleased to see her. Circumstances change rapidly in this fast-paced novel, however, and after the grandfather is injured while trying to stop poachers from capturing eagles, Kate's presence proves useful. He teaches her to live in the wilderness according to Native American precepts, she helps him come to terms with the dramatic rift within his family, and together they face the mortal dangers posed by the poachers. Kate's pluck and resourcefulness in daunting surroundings make her a near counterpart to the hero of Gary Paulsen's Hatchet . If this story lacks plausibility, it is solidly politically correct--and fun to read. Ages 10-up. (June)