Three in a Cage

Three in a Cage

By Janice Kimball

Book Review by James Tipton

181 pages

$200 pesos



three-in-a-cageThree in a Cage is about creating family. It is also about loss, longing, survival, injustice, adaptation, rescue, and love. Long-time local artist Janice Kimball is the creator and owner of Aztec Art and Weaving Studios in west Ajijic, where she lives with her family—the other two characters in this delightful story—Mayan weaving maestro Francisco Urzúa and the lovable Max Bird, a rescued parrot.

Around three years ago, as Jani, Francisco, and Max Bird were well on their way to “rescuing each other” and creating “their own world,” Jani realized that she needed to write a book. She would write about what they built together “from our lost identities.” This might become instructions of sort so that others could learn to live “outside the confines of traditional thinking” and thus discover “how to fly without wings.”

This, then, is that story. It is filled with touching scenes, with often remarkable conversations between the three characters. Many of these conversations are about the longing each has, in his own way, to fly, and to be understood, and to be loved without conditions, by the two other members of this family.

In one touching scene, Max Bird, whose wings for his own protection are clipped, confides to Francisco that he would like to be one of those pelicans that fly over the lake “coming in all grouped together yet free, the wind picking up the skirts of their tail feathers as they are about to land on the water, tickling the edges of their concealed down.” Max Bird then asks Francisco, “What do you dream about Maestro?”

“Why, I dream about becoming a parrot like you!” Francisco replied caught off guard, and only half in jest. “To be enveloped in another’s arms at night, have my neck scratched, to watch someone else wash the dishes, to receive attention every time I squawked….”

Max ponders this a bit and then says, “If I had arms I would help you with the dishes, Maestro, and I would tuck you in, and I would hug you, I would hug you a lot!” Max exclaimed as he leaned into Francisco, stretching out a wing in an attempt to comfort him. All three characters have had lots of tragedy in their lives, and in the course of the story, you learn some of the individual stories of each as they move toward a profound healing that takes place in their creation of a family, a very unusual one, where each in his own way is free because of his devotion to the others, and each is living embraced by the others. This is a classic story, filled with love and hope, and appealing to all ages.

Janice Kimball came to Mexico well over a decade ago and opened her first gallery in 2000, “to foster communication between Lake Chapala’s expatriate art community and local Mexican artists.” That has evolved into their beautiful space where they both live and work, Aztec Art and Weaving Studios, just off the Carretera in west Ajijic. For additional information go to or email her at Bbook available at her studio, Diane Pearl’s Colecciones, and on Kindle.

For more information about Lake Chapala visit:

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