When a young human space colonist crashes on an unexplored planet inhabited by intelligent reptilian creatures, her adventures lead to some heavy-duty multicultural sensitivity training from Bechard (Really No Big Deal, 1994, etc.). Hanna is the ""hatchling"" of the title, inadvertently launched from her home in an escape shuttle and approached after landing by Shem and his sister Cheko, two engaging ""Indigies"" who befriend her. In their culture, the crestheads (female) are dominant and aggressive; the flatheads (males) are submissive and in charge of domestic matters. The three can only try to ""converse"" through gestures and guesswork. Bechard emphasizes the power of communication by switching back and forth between Hanna's and Shem's narration; halfway through the book this switching begins to wear thin, but it provides funny moments as the many misunderstandings are first created, then dispelled. An action-packed plot drives the point home: Readers learn how individuals are motivated by feelings and assumptions when they can't communicate effectively. A last-minute rescue by a fellow colonist saves Hanna from Shem and Cheko's mistrustful neighbors, but everyone benefits from the encounter. Readers will, too.