The American bald eagle, the national symbol of the United States, was once dangerously near to extinction. With the help of dedicated volunteers and decades of hard work, the eagle population made a dramatic comeback. This moving picture book tells the story of one boy who helped in the hatching of an eaglet. Featuring vividly detailed paintings from landscape artist Wendell Minor, Jean Craighead George's inspiring text will motivate readers of all ages to care for the ...
The American bald eagle, the national symbol of the United States, was once dangerously near to extinction. With the help of dedicated volunteers and decades of hard work, the eagle population made a dramatic comeback. This moving picture book tells the story of one boy who helped in the hatching of an eaglet. Featuring vividly detailed paintings from landscape artist Wendell Minor, Jean Craighead George's inspiring text will motivate readers of all ages to care for the environment and its many creatures.
In this inspiring companion to The Wolves Are Back and The Buffalo Are Back, Minor and the late George complete a trio of “environmental success stories that show us it is possible to preserve nature for future generations,” as Minor puts it in his acknowledgments. The book retains the economical prose of its predecessors, though a pair of central human characters—a boy and a park ranger who share a passion for endangered bald eagles—give this story an added intimacy for readers. The bald eagle’s numbers had dropped from half a million when the Founding Fathers named it the national bird to less than 1,000, due in large part to the use of the pesticide DDT. The ranger and boy attempt to get a pair of bald eagles, named Uncle Sam and First Lady, to adopt an egg that has been brought in from Alaska after the birds’ own eggs were destroyed. Minor’s gouache and watercolor are characteristically majestic—from the eagles’ delicate feathers and thatched nests to the cloudy blue skies and bright forests around them, every spread is thick with texture and detail. Ages 6–8. (Mar.)¦
- Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Years ago the bald eagle, national bird of the United States, was becoming scarce, chiefly because the pesticide DDT softens its eggs so they cannot sit on and incubate them. Congress banned its use, but the eagles were still endangered. George tells the story of their return through that of a young eagle fan. A ranger gives him two eggs; he is hoping that the eagles that the boy cares for will adopt them. Fortunately the eagles do return to their nest and adopt an egg. The eggs hatches and they feed the chick. She finally flies with them. Now the eagles are back and that boy, now grown, can take some of the credit. The very positive story is set visually in full- and double-page naturalistic paintings by an artist who used pencils, gouache, and watercolors to depict the natural setting and, most of all, the many images of the impressive birds. The emotions generated by this book should help support the continued preservation of our national symbol. A list of sources is included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3–4—This tale of the bald eagle's survival from a threatened state is set in an undated era when eggs, made fragile as DDT pervaded the environment, cracked under the weight of brooding birds. George begins a fictionalized scheme telling of a boy observing eagles "by a remote lake" and then helping a park ranger to encourage adoption by local birds of an imported egg placed in their empty nest. The author seamlessly blends factual explanations into the story line, telling how the eagles have wide influence on nature as their eating habits send food remnants to smaller creatures and then sketching the birds' years of decline. The boy and the ranger become observers as a successful hatching occurs, and the text then follows the care and growth of the eaglet until it takes flight. Minor's paintings handsomely convey the eagles' impressive stature and the natural settings they inhabit. The book fits loosely with two others in which these longtime collaborators describe animals recovering from threatened extinction-The Wolves Are Back (2008) and The Buffalo Are Back (2010, both Dutton). The factual information is a quick sketch with no author's note or end matter-save a short list of websites-to add facts or indicate if the story is actually grounded in real events. Libraries and readers will welcome this engaging introduction to the iconic bird, and it is a nice addition to the growing list of books featuring children as active participants in caring for the natural world.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
George, who chronicled the return to America's wild places of wolves and buffalo in two similar titles, now celebrates the comeback of the American bald eagle with a combination of fact and imagination. Her slight story stars an unnamed boy and eagles known as Uncle Sam and First Lady and is set years ago, when eagles were disappearing, their eggs cracking because of DDT in the food chain. The boy helps the eagles, their own eggs broken, raise an eaglet from a transplanted egg by throwing fish he catches to the parents. Not only does the boy watch the pair brood the egg and nurture the hatchling he calls Alaska, he sees it take flight. Later, as an adult watching 30 eagles over the Hudson River, he can tell his son that he contributed to the eagles' return. Though presented as true, the incident is undocumented and the threat to eagles in the contiguous 48 states statistically oversimplified. (The vast majority of the half-million eagles here when the Puritans came lived in Alaska, where they were never threatened.) Nonetheless, readers will be cheered by this inspiring picture book, illustrated with Minor's dramatic gouache-and-watercolor paintings, which portray close-up eagle portraits, vignettes and vast landscapes. A heartwarming culmination to a distinguished career. (Picture book. 5-9)
Jean Craighead George was the preeminent nature writer for children. She is the author of My Side of the Mountain and Julie of the Wolves, and her work spanned 50 years. She died in May 2012 at age 93.
After completing his studies at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, Wendell Minor began creating original designs for book publishers in New York City. He has created jacket illustrations for more than 2000 books, and has illustrated dozens of books for children, including America The Beautiful and Yankee Doodle America. He lives in Connecticut.