Nine year old Matica lives in a remote village on a dry plateau in the Andes of Peru. She moved to Peru when she was five with Australian missionary and schoolteacher parents. Because Matica is trapped in the body of a two year old, her growth handicap has caused her to be rejected by the local people and they would not accept her into their community or allow her to play with the children.
With patience and a sense of adventure Matica befriends a pair of condors. A strong bond and love develops between them.
Matica rescues the egg the condors, Tamo and Tima, are trying to protect from poachers and nurtures it to hatching. The egg hatches on her 10th birthday and she names the new fledging Talon.
Many adventures unfold, including her finally being accepted into the local community. And something totally unexpected...
This is the beginning of many incredible adventures with Talon and Matica. It is a story of hope, determination and love.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received a complimentary copy of this book in 2012 from the author in return for an honest review. Unfortunately, due to my rather large reading list, I haven't been able to read it until now. Since then I think this book has been re-edited and had a new cover released. Therefore, I can only review the copy I received.
This is the first book in a children's adventure series. I enjoyed it.
Matica is a wonderful character. I really liked her tenacity. She is a nine year old girl who has a disability, she has a growth hormone problem and is trapped in the body of a toddler aged two or three. However, she doesn't let that deter her from exploring her environment and going on several adventures in a small village in Peru, where her parents are missionaries/teachers. Due to her disability, the villagers are wary of Matica and shun her, but when she befriends a pair of condors she finds herself embarking on a dangerous adventure.
This is a wonderful children's story that teaches the readers about compassion, integration, acceptance, loneliness, friendship, determination and love. I enjoyed meeting Matica's family, who have travelled to Peru to teach the villagers of a remote village called Pucara. Crayn is Matica's dad, Mira is her mother and Aikon is her four year old brother. However, I felt the characters didn't come alive on the page for me, though the condors did. But, children may not have the same issue.
I started reading but felt that some of the dialogue was a little clunky and there was not enough descriptive text for my taste. I'm all for conversation, but feel some children will be bored by all of the talking and lack of action. Yes, there are exciting parts that had me hooked, but they only happened within the last few chapters when Talon came into their lives. I also had a slight problem with Matica's size. A toddler is quite small and, although Matica is nine, her little legs would have made climbing quite challenging. Peru has several mountains and, I am sure condors live on cliffs or craggy outcroppings which would make it hard going for normal people, never mind a small girl to attain. But, setting this aspect aside for the sake of story, I found myself entertained with Talon and his relationship with his condor parents, Tamo and Timo, and his human one. Condors are pretty ugly, seeing as they are vultures, but they are highly intelligent too. They are scavengers and are necessary to clean up when animals are killed or die naturally.
Gigi Sedlmayer has written an intriguing story about Peruvian condors and how one little girl changed the preconceptions of the local population and made friends with one of the world's biggest flying birds. I found her writing style a little slow for my taste, but it could be perfect for young readers who are struggling to read books on their own. I found the flow a little jerky too, but I am hoping that due to the time since I received this book, it may have been re-edited and it may have been smoothed out.
I highly recommend this book to children aged 8-12. I also recommend this book to adults who love reading middle grade YA fiction. - Lynn Worton
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Gisela (Gigi) Sedlmayer was born on 19 May 1944 in Potsdam, a suburb of Berlin in Germany.
Her family escaped to the West just before the infamous wall went up. They moved around in Germany until finally settling in Munich where Gigi studied architectural drafting and met Albert in 1965, marrying in December 1967. She worked as a civil draftsperson in various private consultancies in Munich.
Since her uncle was a writer, she tried to write short animal stories herself. Nothing further came of it, but she developed a love for the written word and started to consume books.
In May 1975, Gigi and her husband moved to New Zealand. Because of language challenges, she started a handicraft business. As a specialty, she made colourful parrots of which she sold thousands in a few years.
In 1988, they decided to adopt and became adoptive parents of twin girls the year after. They lived in New Zealand for eighteen years and moved to Australia in September 1992.
Two years later Gigi was diagnosed with cancer. After operations and radiation, she withdrew, thinking that she would probably soon be dead, like her friend who died of cancer, but her two little girls gave her the courage to keep going. After a few years, still among the living, her brain started to work again, so she thought, ‘Get a grip on yourself and do something good with your life’.
She remembered the time she wrote short stories and got inspired again, seeing her husband Albert writing the story of their adoption. Her English became increasingly better so she pressed on to develop her creative writing.
Albert taught her how to use a computer and she wrote many short stories. She entered them in competitions and often got very good reports back, which gave her confidence to go on writing. One day the idea for the TALON series came to her and she spent the next several years bringing the story and the characters to life.
She now loves writing and spends most of her time at the computer, developing new story lines. She also loves traveling, 4x4 touring, swimming, gardening, handcrafting, reading, fossicking and enjoys good adventure DVD’s or going to the movies.