Cuckoo's flight by Wendy Orr

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This title is a companion to Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance, a fascinating set of stories focussed on Bronze Age Crete.  How refreshing to have historical middle fiction adventures to read, experiencing the world of 4000 year old Minoan Culture.  Wendy Orr, well known for her Nim’s Island stories, has a fine ability to bring her characters alive; this she does through her terrific sense of place.  In the case of Crete, the author understands the time period, explores it beautifully and brings it to life, with females playing out strong resilient roles in challenging times.

Clio, who is 14 years old, has suffered a riding accident, which means that she must adjust the way in which she can pursue her love of riding and horses.  When she hears her dead grandmother make a prophesy about young riders saving the town from an imminent war, Clio considers her destiny.

The author switches from prose to free verse exploring Clio’s developing maturity, pinpointing what is important for the young girl’s understanding of her role in society.  The verse element recalls the story telling techniques of the ancient playwrights and could be used to discover more about ancient civilisations.

This is a great story, providing plenty of avenues for further reading and discussion.

There are excellent Teacher Notes available on the Allen & Unwin website.

Themes: Bronze Age, Crete, Survival.

Julie Wells