Tag Archives: birds

The Hawk of the Castle, a Story of Medieval Falconry













The Hawk of the Castle, a Story of Medieval Falconry
by Danna Smith, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Candlewick Press, 2017

This exquisitely illustrated book shares a tale of falconry set in the medieval days. Author Danna Smith was trained on falconry as a child, and provides an exciting, insightful experience of hunting with falcons.

With easy to understand rhyme, repetition and illustrations, the youngest readers can follow the basic story.  Readers learn how falcons are trained, how the birds are lifted into flight, how they soar above the castle, and how they capture their prey.  As young readers are ready to know more, each page provides explanations of terms, equipment and insights about falcons.  A generous afterward includes many more historical and current details about the sport.

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Baby Wren and the Great Gift












Baby Wren and the Great Gift
by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jen Corace
Zonderkidz, 2016

A sweet, thoughtful book about a baby wren alone in the canyon who learns of her talent and its importance in her world.

Written as a poem, with repetition for the young ones, the baby wren wonders why he couldn’t dive like the kingfisher, or why he couldn’t do cartwheels like a ring-tailed cat, or why he couldn’t swim like the sunfish.  But she soon learns that when she quietly watched the canyon turn pink for a very long time,

…what she saw couldn’t fit inside her
it bumped into her heart
it dazzled in her eyes
…until with all her tiny might
[she] sang
by herself
a song.

And so she learns that her song is wonderful and bigger than the whole canyon!

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Is This Panama? A Migration Story

panamaIs This Panama? A Migration Story
by Jan Thornhill, illustrated by Soyeon Kim
Owl Kids, 2013

A lovely story to introduce the concept of migrating birds, insects and mammals.

Sammy, a young Wilson Warbler, discovers his friends have already left the Arctic Circle for Panama, and starts out on his own for his ‘first’ migration.  Without the guidance of other warblers, he joins other birds, insects, and mammals to make his way to his winter home.  I love this story.  Sammy is young and doing a lot of ‘firsts’ in his young life.  His innocence and love for everything shines on every page. The art is exquisite.  Soyeon Kim uses fine sketching and painting techniques to produce three-dimensional pieces showing the journey.  After reading the words, I returned several times to savor the illustrations.

After asking a ptarmigan and caribou for help, Sammy eventually joins a flock of Sandhill Cranes and ‘hops on the back’ of one on a flight toward Texas.  He eventually separates, but after meeting a garter snake, he determines he is not safe and flies eastward with green darner dragonflies who follow a shoreline.  Then he joins a flock of Restart Warblers who travel at night following the stars.  By this time he is way off course, but has no way of knowing.  With the assistance of Monarch Butterflies, whales, and others, he finally makes it to his winter home.

Adults will love reading the story to piece together where young Sammy might be on his journey.  Children will explore the wide world of migrating creatures.

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The Year the Swallows Came Early

The Year the Swallows Came Early
By Kathryn Fitzmaurice
The Bowen Press, HarperCollins, 2009

The Year the Swallows Came Early is about a girl who learns to accept the imperfect people in her life. Set in small town San Juan Capistrano, California, where swallows return each year to nest, Eleanor “Groovy” Robinson witnesses her father’s arrest and her world begins crumbling around her.  Shocked and sure it’s a mistake, she runs to her mother, who abruptly leaves work to ‘take care of her headache.’  Left alone, she encounters Frankie, whose mother left him two years ago, old Tom, a homeless man, and young Marisol Cruz, a passionate and promising artist.  Following a believable path, each provides Groovy insights worth contemplating.  In the wake of her father’s rubble, Groovy learns he betrayed her and ripped away any chance at her life-long dream.  Angry, she cuts off all communication with him and drops the nickname he had given her.  She insists everyone call her Eleanor.

On the top story, Eleanor is pushed and pulled through her father’s arrest and betrayal, dreams, chocolate-covered strawberries, sidewalk art masterpieces, boat rides in storms and earthquakes.  While through her equally compelling under-story we watch Eleanor learn that the unforgivable can be forgiven.  Fresh and thought-provoking metaphors sprinkle a flavorful depth to scenes and characters.

This novel is perfect for aspiring chefs.  Eleanor’s dream is to become a chef.  She keeps a journal of her favorite recipes and creates perfect menus for every possible situation.  At another’s suggestion she creates her own recipe for chocolate-covered strawberries and they sell out regularly in a local café.

Kathryn Fitzmaurice’s first novel is a beauty.  My only disappointment is that the author has no second book to read!

Originally published in San Francisco Book Review.

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