Ookpik: The Travels of a Snowy Owl

Overview

One snowy owl's first year and its struggle to survive. Fed by his parents, Ookpik, which means "snowy owl" in the Inuit language, grows quickly in the short Arctic summer. By autumn he has learned to hunt on his own, but prey is scarce on the tundra that year. The owl's instincts tell him that he must leave this land or starve. Ookpik flies south, over the great forests of Canada, and finally lands in the United States, always searching for food and a winter hunting ground. With vivid watercolor illustrations, ...

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Overview

One snowy owl's first year and its struggle to survive. Fed by his parents, Ookpik, which means "snowy owl" in the Inuit language, grows quickly in the short Arctic summer. By autumn he has learned to hunt on his own, but prey is scarce on the tundra that year. The owl's instincts tell him that he must leave this land or starve. Ookpik flies south, over the great forests of Canada, and finally lands in the United States, always searching for food and a winter hunting ground. With vivid watercolor illustrations, Bruce Hiscock depicts the changing landscape, from the treeless Arctic of Baffin Island to the dairy country of eastern New York. There, Ookpik settles for the winter, much to the delight of bird watchers. An author's note offers additional details on the life of the snowy owl.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 7 to 9.

In a shallow nest on the frozen Arctic tundra, four eggs of a snowy owl hatch. Turn a page and you will see that danger is here already in the shape of the hungry Arctic fox. The simple text works with economy to reveals the links between predator and prey, the feeding and nesting habits of the snowy owl, and the eventual flight of one of the hatchlings. Dubbed Ookpik, the Inuktitut word for the snowy owl, the young male learns to hunt on his own in the early fall of the Far North, and in due course begins his long flight south. Hiscock manages to show us the world through the owl's perspective with clarity and depth, engaging the reader with the conflict and tension inherently present in each step of the journey. Despite the naming of the owl, there is no anthropomorphism here. The small plants "like standing children" and the owl sitting perfectly still, waiting for the first lemming to appear--these are scenes rendered with strength and vividness. The authorial voice is confident and informative, and Ookpik should be an important addition to materials about migration and seasonal change in North America. The text is complemented by wide watercolor views of terrain, from snowy tundra to cityscapes, and over the Adirondack Mountains to the dairy country of New York State. A single page of back matter provides a detailed author's note including information about the snowy owl's range, the size of the bird, its natural prey, courtship and nesting patterns, as well as additional information about its life cycle, mortality and the implications of global climate change. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami

School Library Journal

Gr 3-6- Hiscock has long been into "big"-think The Big Rock (S & S, 1988) and The Big Caribou Herd (Boyds Mills, 2003)-and here he focuses on North America's second-biggest owl. Snowies are Arctic dwellers whose sporadic irruptions into more southerly climes bring out birders with binoculars in bunches. Hiscock's realistic, detailed watercolors perfectly match his prose in this inviting "biography" of a typical Snowy during a cycle when lemmings, the birds' choice prey, are few. Following Ookpik from egg to hatchling to fledgling to a young adult forced into a southward flight to avoid starvation, the author presents not only the owl's general behaviors and preferred habitat, but also its coping skills in adapting to a biome not its own. A final page proffers a bundle of facts on Snowy owls-range, size, food, courtship and nesting behaviors, and more. Elegant and informative.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

Kirkus Reviews
Snowy owls, birds of the frozen far north, appear in the lower 48 states only sporadically, in winters when the lemming population has crashed and food is in short supply. Inspired by such a visitation, Hiscock follows an owl through his first year, from egg to hatchling, first flight and migration from the Baffin Island tundra, over the taiga, past Ottawa, to spend the winter on a farm in northern New York before returning to his arctic home. A map of the bird's imagined journey introduces the narrative, which includes an owl's growth and development, feeding, natural predators and prey. Detailed watercolors illustrate the varied landscapes, often in sweeping double-page spreads. Although Ookpik (the Inuktitut word for "snowy owl") is slightly personified for the sake of the story, the narrative generally sticks to the possible facts and an extensive author's note at the end provides further information. Like his earlier Big Caribou Herd (2003), this conveys the author's love for that remote part of the world and provides a fine introduction for middle-grade readers. (Nonfiction. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590784617
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2008
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 784,426
  • Age range: 7 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.20 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Hiscock has written and illustrated many books for children that deal with nature and wildlife. He lives in Porter Corners, New York.

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