Before delving into the African adventures of school girl Kiisa and her talking companion, Njili the pied wagtail, readers should peruse the “Dear Reader” introduction by author J.A. Myhre, then flip to the back of the book for Read a Story, Change a Story. Knowing that half of the author’s royalties are used to “enable orphans to receive an education, babies of HIV positive mothers receive food, children who have never held a book receive a library and much more” makes purchasing the book even more worthwhile.
Classified as juvenile fiction, A Bird, a Girl and a Rescue with its twists, turns, nod to local African culture, sports scenes, and talking animals known as Messengers, is appealing for adults and youth alike. For those unfamiliar with African culture, the glossary of terms on pages 128 – 130 is most helpful.
The story opens as 11-year-old Kiisa’s father deposits her at boarding school for the first time, a truly common practice in many regions of African. The mutual adoration shared between father and daughter is obvious even on the story’s beginning pages. Kiisa is reluctant to leave the comforts of the only life she has known. Her father gently leaves her with the whispered words, “For such a time as this,” keying readers into the Esther-esque tale about to unfold.
Quiet and reserved, Kiisa finds herself in the role of would be rescuer on more than one occasion; saving her talking bird from torture by overzealous school children, her school’s soccer team from ultimate defeat, her dorm mates from death by fire and finally the class bully from the rebels who kidnapped her. Ultimately realizing the role she’s been chosen to play, Kiisa wonders, “Why does doing the right thing always have to involve risk and cost?” a sentiment that rings true for all finding themselves on a similar path.
One word of caution, the ending seems rather abrupt. The reader is left feeling unceremoniously dumped and wondering what went wrong. A Bird, a Girl, and the Rescue is the second book in The Rwendigo Tales, which leaves the reader with hope that author Myhre, continues the journey.
***In exchange for this review, Cross Focus Media provided a complimentary copy
of the book reviewed.