Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City

Overview

The birdwatchers of Central Park were buzzing–a young red-tailed hawk had been spotted, would he stay? The bird they dubbed Pale Male not only stayed, he became one of New York City’s most famous residents. Pale Male and his mate built their nest near the top of one of Fifth Avenue’s swankiest apartment buildings. Nine years and 23 chicks later, Pale Male’s fame had grown so large that a CBS newsman named him Father of the Year! But Pale Male was less beloved by the residents of the building, and in 2004 the ...

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Overview

The birdwatchers of Central Park were buzzing–a young red-tailed hawk had been spotted, would he stay? The bird they dubbed Pale Male not only stayed, he became one of New York City’s most famous residents. Pale Male and his mate built their nest near the top of one of Fifth Avenue’s swankiest apartment buildings. Nine years and 23 chicks later, Pale Male’s fame had grown so large that a CBS newsman named him Father of the Year! But Pale Male was less beloved by the residents of the building, and in 2004 the owners suddenly removed the nest–setting off an international outcry on behalf of the birds.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Starred Review, School Library Journal, January 2008:
"From the eye-catching endpapers ... to the energetic city scenes, readers experience New Yorkers’ excitement about Pale Male ... and understand why his story has captured the interest of so many people."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, January 28, 2008:
"[T]his version stands out for its urbane, reportorial prose and stylish watercolors ... by the final page, even readers who live far from Manhattan will appreciate that Pale Male's significance and stature rise well beyond those of media darling."

Starred Review, Booklist, February 15, 2008:
" Beautiful contrasting views of the bird soaring above the wild park and the forest of the skyscrapers will ignite children's curiosity in both urban animals and the caring people who help protect them."

Starred Review, Horn Book, March/April 2008:
“This third recent picture book about the red-tailed hawks that have nested on a posh building across from Central Park since the 1990s is the best so far.”

Review, New York Times Book Review, June 1, 2008:
"[Schulman's] language is sophisticated and wry . . . [and] the watercolor illustrations, by Meilo So, are luminous."

John Schwartz
In Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City, Janet Schulman tells the story of the city's most popular predator since Michael Milken…She doesn't offer new information about this urban nature story, but her language is sophisticated and wry…The watercolor illustrations, by Meilo So, are luminous, the colors seeming to shine through the pages like a sunrise through stained glass.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Although the red-tailed hawk of Fifth Avenue has inspired at least two other picture books, this version stands out for its urbane, reportorial prose and stylish watercolors (according to jacket copy, Schulman wrote with So specifically in mind; the pair also worked together for A Bunny for All Seasons). To Schulman, Pale Male and his family, who became a cause célèbre when they built a nest on a ledge outside one of Manhattan's toniest apartment buildings, deserve to be thought of as "true-blue New Yorkers-tough, resourceful, and determined to make it in the city." So seconds that emotion with deft, impressionistic brushstrokes and splashes of color reminiscent of fashion illustration; her images capture not only the cool majesty of the bird, but also the tentative half-flights of the chicks and the eclectic élan of the city that lobbied for them. The politics of the Pale Male story are confronted head-on: the privileged residents of 927 Fifth Avenue, who tried to evict Pale Male by destroying his nest, get a gentle but thorough drubbing. Formidably dressed, clutching highballs and generally scowling, they're in clear violation of Big Apple spirit (the author notes that they took advantage of "a time when many conservation and wildlife laws were being relaxed by President George W. Bush's administration"). By the final page, even readers who live far from Manhattan will appreciate that Pale Male's significance and stature rise well beyond those of media darling. Ages 6-12. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
When a red-tailed hawk made his nest on a ledge on the rooftop of a Fifth Avenue apartment building, normally blase New Yorkers became avid birdwatchers. Eagerly they vied for a view of the bird they affectionately called Pale Male and his mate Lola. Each spring Pale Male would return, renovate his nest and with Lola care for their newly hatched chicks until they were old enough to fly. Many of those offspring made their homes in nearby Central Park. In 2005, the neighbors of the prestigious address succeeded in getting the nest removed, but protests by enthusiastic birdwatchers, the Audubon Society, cabbies, children, construction workers and all of Pale Male's faithful following soon had the nest restored. For more than nine years Pale Male and his family gave hours of joy to hardened New Yorkers, bringing a touch of the wild to their world of concrete. Pale Male's story has been recorded in newspaper accounts, television news and a 2007 publication by Jeanette Winter, The Tale of Pale Male. This account, with its graceful watercolors in earthy hues, captures the essence of the hawk in its deft storytelling. Through the artist's eye readers glimpse the majestic bird with wings spread, cast their eyes upward to the rooftop or get a street view of the protesters with their brightly colored placards. Here is a perfect example of scientific information wrapped inside a delightful story. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6
Compared to Meghan McCarthy's City Hawk: The Story of Pale Male (S & S) and Jeanette Winter's The Tale of Pale Male: A True Story (Harcourt, both 2007), this book about the first red-tailed hawk to take up residence in New York City's Central Park since its construction in 1857 is more suitable for older readers. Schulman supplies many details missing from the earlier versions, resulting in a more accurate and leisurely story. For example, children who rightly were puzzled about how apartment-building owners were able to destroy and remove Pale Male's nest will learn that they took advantage of newly relaxed rules under the Migratory Bird Treaty. So's illustrations play up the conflict between the upscale building's residents, annoyed with the mess of nesting birds and their garbage, and the growing number of New Yorkers who rallied to force them to allow the birds to nest again. The artist's evocative watercolor and colored pencil pictures perfectly capture the power and grace of the majestic raptors. From the eye-catching endpapers, showing exactly what birders see when they spot a red-tailed hawk in the sky, to the energetic city scenes, readers experience New Yorkers' excitement about Pale Male and his various mates and their offspring and understand why his story has captured the interest of so many people.
—Ellen FaderCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
A lengthy text tells the story, again, of the red-tailed hawk that thrilled the birdwatchers of Central Park and ruffled the feathers of the residents of 927 Fifth Avenue. The fierce predator's eye that gazes out at readers from the front jacket give the book its raison d'etre: So's exquisite watercolors. Her swift brushstrokes take on an energy all of their own as they depict Pale Male terrorizing pigeons, tending to his chicks and serenely taking up residence on the luxury apartment building that became the locus of so much controversy. Schulman's story is more complete than either Pale Male, by Jeanette Winter, or City Hawk: The Story of Pale Male (both 2007), which each told more compact slices of the hawk's adventures. Readers will learn of Pale Male's past romances and of his chicks' successes on their own, making this a worthwhile next step for youngsters captivated by either of the two earlier books. It is undeniably duplicative, however, and stands out much more for its illustrations than for the story. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375845581
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/11/2008
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 427,444
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: 1030L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.94 (w) x 11.33 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Janet Schulman is a renowned editor and publisher of children’s books. She lives in New York City.

Meilo So has illustrated many acclaimed and award-winning books. She lives in the Shetland Islands, Scotland.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 15, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A wonderfully illustrated true story about Hawks living in NYC for any age!

    PALE MALE is beautifully illustrated and the story is hard to believe; since it's true, that makes it even better. Did you know there are a family of HAWKS living in Central Park, in New York City? This story tells the "family saga" in easy to read prose and beautifully illustrated pages. I highly recommend for everyone. Kids interested in Hawks, New York City, Central Park, etc. will truly love this book. It's my pick for gifts this year.

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