The rancher uncle Ceph calls Rockheart is too grumpy for words (""A kid's got a right to expect food for his body, but food for his head is something else""), and his shirttail relative, Shakespeare-quoting Van, is his mirror image. Despite these corny caricatures, there's some mileage in the experiences of Ceph who has lost his father through divorce and wears his pain close to the surface. Ceph has been sent to the ranch in disgrace after being caught stealing, and takes well to sheep herding even though his city boy's heart longs to soar with the eagle he names Jo-Wing. Then Jo-Wing kills a lamb and he strikes back, murdering the eagle, which of course means he's in trouble with the law again. Rockheart and Van are always around to seal every lesson Ceph learns with an old saw or a passage from Shakespeare. Even though you wish they'd stop being such picturesque old codgers and shut up for awhile, Ceph could do worse, and the message -- self respect and responsibility -- is at least passably palatable.