Child of the Air

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9780027183177: Child of the Air

The mesa is wrapped in mist. There's no way off it. In winter it ices up; in summer the air catches fire and the mesa folk go underground until the storms pass. There are no trees on the mesa, for no plant can survive more than one short season. The nearest thing to a tree is the podlith: a spiral tube formed from a barbed vine that upon exposure to the air hardens into stone. No one lives up among those deadly vines except Gven, the broom-maker and his two grandchildren, Mylanfyndra and Brevan.
In the spring thaw, when the soft new tree shoots poke up from the forest floor, Gven and the two children gather them to make brooms. One spring, as the children celebrate the season, calamity strikes. They soon find that their world is not such a friendly place. In addition, they begin to exhibit an alarming gift that almost costs them their lives! Borne on the fiery storm winds, they flee the mesa into even worse trouble than before!

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From School Library Journal:

Grade 5-8-- Mylanfyndra and Brevan have shared a hardscrabble but secure childhood cared for by Gven-bahr-brum, their grandfather. When he dies, the stern Elders of the desert settlement reveal that the two were originally foundlings and thus have no right to inherit Gven's cabin or his few possessions. As penniless orphans, they are now outcasts, housed and fed in a communal hovel in exchange for performing any demeaning, backbreaking labor demanded of them by the townsfolk. Up to this point the story and setting seems old-fashioned and vaguely medieval. At night they secretly steal back to their former home to share a few hours of free air--and here things take an unusual and surprising turn when first Myl and then Brev discover that they can fly. After several hair-raising events and escapes, a new world opens up to them as they return to their rightful home. Chetwin has created an unusual and interesting world in this novel, first portraying a small, insulated group with its customs and folklore and mistaken ideas about the rest of the world, and then stepping back to view the wider world as it really is, with light and air and knowledge rushing in to end Myl and Brev's imprisonment in mind as well as body. The author successfully describes two very different cultures, with the unsophisticated life on the mesa contrasting with an enlightened futuristic society in which telepathy and human flight are as commonplace as the respect for knowledge and for each other. There is certainly room for a sequel here, and further adventures to tell. --Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

Orphans Myl and Brev find themselves thrust into the cruel and ugly world of slave labor when their kindly old grandfather Gven dies. Set on an alien planet, the story revolves around the children's gift for flight. As they learn to fly, Myl and Brev must run away from a handful of exploitative masters and learn that they are not freaks but members of a race of flying humans. Somewhat short on character development, the novel offers plenty of suspense and an involved plot line as Myl and Brev make their way to sanctuary. The atmosphere of social oppression calls to mind Joan Aiken's alternate-Victorian-era novels ( The Cuckoo Tree , Dido and Pa , etc.), and Chetwin's presentation of the children's successful struggle within the social gloom cannot fail to entertain, although the novel's length may be daunting to some middle-grade readers. Ages 9-14.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Grace Chetwin
ISBN 10: 0027183173 ISBN 13: 9780027183177
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