Book review

Fly, Cherokee, Fly by Chris d'Lacey (1998)

It's about pigeons, and the glorious pleasure of keeping pigeons and racing them.

Cherokee is a pigeon. Darryl finds her in the shrubbery at the local park. She is damaged, and he takes her home to care for her. Even that modest ambition seems too much for his edgy parents, but he manages to find a gap in their defences. The pigeon, you see, has a ring on its leg. It is a homing pigeon.

How can you find out who a homing pigeon belongs too? The short answer is that you take it to the local pigeon fancier, and he will tell you, even if he is just another gritty northerner. Alf Duckins doesn't have much time for kids, of course, but identifies the pigeon. It belongs to Len Spiggott.

Len Spiggott, accomplished pigeon fancier and racer, doesn't want the injured bird. He expects Alf Duckins to destroy the bird for him, but Alf can't resist the urgent request of the distraught boy, and he gives it to Darryl to cherish. And so begins an interest which is to become an all-consuming passion.

Of course, life is not simple when you own one clapped-out racing pigeon. You will naturally want to race your bird, which Darryl does. If you want to know how Cherokee does in her race, you will have to read the book. If you want to know how Darryl faces up to Len Spiggott's awful, mindless, bullying son, Warren, that is another reason why you should read the book:

' ... My dad's the rightful owner of that bird. And you know what I think?'
I shook my head.
'I think if he knew she could fly again, he'd want her back. I'm gonna tell him where she is ...'
'No!' I shouted.
'She's ours!' hailed Garry.
'Butt out, you! I haven't finished.' Warren looked around and bit the side of his thumb. 'I'm gonna tell him everything I know - unless ...'
'Unless what?' I gulped.
Warren's dark eyes narrowed. He grabbed me again and our noses touched. 'Unless ... you become my slave,' he whispered.

What can I read next?

If you enjoy this book, there is a sequel:

  • Fly, Cherokee, Fly
  • Pawnee Warrior

The rather curious, austere atmosphere of the book reminds me very strongly of this one by Robert Swindells, about bullying at school:

You might also enjoy this one by Nicky Singer. It isn't about birds, although there is a lot of talk about feathers. It is really about overcoming bullying:

Finally, you could have a look at this one by Gillian Cross about bullying, and a beloved otter:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

Fly, Cherokee, Fly features in these lists: