This so completely rises above the norm for juvenile stories about American Indians that reviewing it becomes a problem in the restraint of superlatives. It deals with the growth of Atsee, a Cherokee boy, into manhood by the tribal laws of skills acquired, the controlled reaction to ritually inflicted pain, and heroic action. It is also a clear, understated story of the transformation of Indian culture during the westward expansion of the early 19th century. Atsee, the motherless son of a great hunter, spent his early childhood on the trail with his father who knew all the old ways but who was nevertheless curious about whether the white man had some new ways to share as well as easily transmitted diseases and whiskey. In setting a lost white man back on the trail, father and son acquire a letter of recommendation. To say that the rest of the story is about how Atsee finally found out what ""The Talking Leaf"" said and how he shared it with his tribe does not do the author, who writes beautifully, enough justice. He has created Indians here who sound like thinking people in any age or society who are troubled about the future and anxious to retain the best of the past. How the Cherokee achieved a written language is made a vital, moving story.