Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book Review: Talon, come fly with me by Gigi Sedlmayer

Review: Talon, come fly with me
Series: Talon – Book 1
Author: Gigi Sedlmayer
No of Pages: 220
Release Date: 14 January 2010

Nine-year-old blond Matica lives in a remote little village on a dry plateau in the Andes of Peru. She moved here with her Australian missionary and schoolteacher parents when she was five years old. Ever since she could remember she faced cruel rejection because of her growth handicap. She is trapped in a body the size of a two year old. Because of that the local Indians wouldn’t accept her into their community or allow her to play with their children. Under the watchful eyes of her parents who understand her, lonely Matica explores the plateau for entertainment.

With patience and a sense of adventure she befriended a pair of condors and named them Tamo and Tima. A strong bond and love developed between them.

Having and egg, Tamo and Tima try to fight off a couple of poachers but they succeed in stealing their egg from it’s ledge. Eventually Tamo drives them away but the poachers leave the egg between some boulders on the plateau. Being unable to bring it back to the ledge, Tamo and Tima make it clear to Matica to take care of the egg, so she does.

Exactly on Matica’s tenth birthday, the condor fledgling ‘Talon’ hatches. The book then describes in detail how Matica helps Talon grow into the majestic bird he was meant to be.

Two months after confidently flying, the most unbelievably amazing thing happens. What Matica had dreamed of ever since she first befriended the condors, actually unfolds. That changes her life so completely that she can now see a positive side to her handicap. The Indians then fully accept the new Matica into their community.

This is the beginning of a time of incredible adventures with Talon and Matica, which is carried on in subsequent Talon books.

My Thoughts:

Talon, come fly with me had an ok start, but went downhill from there.

Matica is a 10 year old girl with a growth disability, after being shunned by the Indians in the village that she lives in, she finds her own place to play, by herself and away from their harsh comments. In the process she befriends a condor whom she names Tamo. They become so close that Tamo gives her his mate’s egg to raise because of the danger surrounding it with poachers.

When Talon is born Matica becomes his surrogate mother; feeding, caring for and raising him where Tamo and his mate, Tima, cannot. Talon and Matica become if possible closer than Tamo and Matica were and it’s with the help of Talon that Matica’s dreams of finally being accepted start to come true.

Talon, come fly with me has a good premise. When I read the summary, when I read what I just wrote, I wonder how it could be that a bird could give that much hope to a child that she could overcome the stigma of her disability. What I got was a far-fetched and poorly put together fairytale that has very little logic driving it.

Talon, come fly with me raises a lot of questions with me. If a village shuns your daughter to the point that she has no-one¬ to talk to or play with for five years, why don’t you move? If your daughter has a disability that stunts her growth, why are you letting her run around a forest without supervision? If you see your 10 year old daughter befriending a bird that you are scared of and that has the potential to kill her, why don’t you intervene? If you have been living in a village for five of the most formative years of your life, how can you not know the language? And finally, since when do condors have the intelligence to understand and communicate with people?

Now, the first few of my questions stem from the complete lack of parental support or supervision that was shown to me by Matica’s parents. My mother would have never let me run around without supervision when I was 10 years old, especially not if I had a growth disability that left me the size of a two year old, because logically, that kind of problem would cause issues elsewhere, with bones and organs.

She definitely would not and probably still will not let me go and hang around with a dangerous wild animal that is bigger than me and has the potential to claw my face off and eat it. If my mother does not think something is safe for her to do, she would definitely not let any of her children go anywhere near it, especially if it was alive and had a mind of its own.

My second issue is with Matica herself, she came across to me as a wilful, selfish child that has been spoilt in all the wrong ways throughout her life. She has been living in a village since she was five, and she still doesn’t know their language? How does that happen, her brother was born there and he doesn’t seem to know the language either. Matica expected the birds to give her their egg, Matica expected the egg to hatch on her birthday, and Matica expected her parents to be okay with a metre tall, talon footed animal running around their house crapping on their beds, eating from their table and knocking everything down.

My third issue is with the complete lack of logic contained within the pages of Talon, come fly with me. I was so inflamed by the sheer absurdity of this book that I actually did research into condors and their habits. Condors have never seemed to show above average intelligence, and yet both Tamo and Talon answer Matica’s questions with complete understanding, my cat is an intelligent creature, I have lived with her for 13 years and been talking to her for that long as well and no matter what kind of question I ask I have never and will never get a definitive yes or no answer from her, a grunt maybe but not a shaking of the head. Condors also lay two eggs, if the first one doesn’t survive the condors will instinctively lay a second, it’s how we are boosting their numbers in captivity the handlers take the first egg and hand raise it so the condors will lay a second one, was there any mention of that here though? Of course not, because that wouldn’t fit in with the overall plan of Matica saving the day and becoming a hero.

Talon, come fly with me hasn’t got any redeeming qualities for me, it reads like a first draft, jumpy and poorly written. Nothing is detailed and everything within it only serves to meet Matica’s needs and to make her seem a hero. The entire time we are spoken at and not to, we are being told that Matica is happy, but we never actually see it. All of the secondary characters are only there to boost Matica’s own opinion of herself and come of one dimensional and poorly created.

Talon, come fly with me was a complete train wreck, the idea was poorly constructed and the writing was poorly formed. I didn’t come away with anything from this other than mounting frustration and a new found knowledge of condors that I researched separately because of the absurdity surrounding the main character and her completely irrational relationship with a bird.


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