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School Library Journal
My neighbor, Miss Sandy, is a Raptor Rehabilitator. That means she takes care of injured birds of prey, like owls and hawks, until they are well enough to fly again.
Every day I watch Miss Sandy mix medicines, give out food, and clean the big cages in her backyard. No matter how tired or busy she is, Miss Sandy always takes time to talk to me about the birds.
More than anything, I wish I could walk by myself. Then I would help Miss Sandy with her chores instead of just watching her. But I have cerebral palsy, and my muscles don't work well enough for me to get around without my wheelchair or walker.
One day Miss Sandy shows me a Screech Owl with a broken wing. Even though the owl's wing is set in a splint, she flaps against the sides of her crate, trying to escape.
"She'll have to stay here until her wing heals," says Miss Sandy. "What do you think we should call her, Nathan?"
The owl's bright yellow eyes flash with anger. "How about Fire?" I say.
"That's a good name for her," says Miss Sandy. "I hope Fire will calm down soon."
But day after day, Fire fights to be free, and I worry that she might hurt herself again.
At last Miss Sandy takes the splint off Fire's wing and moves her to a cage.
"Fire needs to practice using her wing a little at a time," she tells me.
As the weeks go by, Fire's wing grows stronger and she is moved to a bigger cage. Sometimes Fire ignores the dead mice that Miss Sandy puts into her cage and peers out at the sky instead. I can tell that Fire wants to go hunting for her own food. "How much longer will she have to stay?" I ask.
"A broken wing takes a long time to get strong again," says Miss Sandy. "I believe you are as impatient as Fire, Nathan!"
Miss Sandy is right. I can't wait for Fire to be free. When I see a bird flying outside the window at school, I think about Fire and forget to listen to what my teacher is saying.
Excerpted from Nathan's Wish by Laurie Lears, Stacey Shuett. Copyright © 2005 Laurie Lears. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
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