Jane Kurtz (Trouble, p. 383, etc.) and her brother, newcomer Christopher Kurtz, offer an unusual and well-written story set in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia--a tale that could be a jumping-off place for a number of topics. Upon rising, Ondu-ahlem, who looks 12, hurries to tend his beloved homing pigeons and their eggs, which will hatch soon. This is his passion, and as he goes through the routine of his day--a half-day at his crowded school, a job shining shoes on the streets--the birds are always on his mind. He allows his little brother to accompany him while he plays a suspenseful game with other boys who keep birds: They release their birds far from home, hoping their own will entice one of the others to defect to their coop. Watercolors in earth tones perfectly capture the terrain, the markets, the hodgepodge outfits the boys piece together. Scenery and portraits alike exhibit great skill in portraying the city and one boy's place in it, while the elegant storytelling is suffused with the quiet tension of the pigeons in danger.