As the naturally written story of a boy, Chad Smith, and a pigeon, Leyden, this easily ranks as one of the best we have read this year. At all times suspense is maintained in a narrative which effortlessly portrays character as confronted with the basic matters of life and death. Chad, with his newly started flock of racing pigeons has an immediate problem with a peeper which is too weak and must be force fed with had himself performing as the parent pigeon. As the peeper turns into the coffee colored hen, Leyden, Chad is proud of the way the bird shapes up, glad he did not decide to kill her at the start. There is something outstanding about Leyden that separates her from the flock and the familiar pecking order is established, with the brutal attacks on Leyden made even more vicious when she is wounded by a hawk. The bird is able to survive the worst of these tribulations and become a fine flyer. When she is killed in the end- by a hawk in foul weather- there is the basic question, to what purpose is it all if at the last there is only suffering and death? But that is answered by the quiet tribute for excellence both Chad and Leyden receive from the racing club. A thoroughly absorbing study that reveals as much about pigeons as it does about people.