The Windhover

Overview

A kestrel chick is born and shares a nest high above a school yard with his brother and sister. They spend their days looking out over the playground, testing the wind with their downy wings, and awaiting their parents and the food they bring. But one day someone else arrives and takes one of the chicks. Torn from his family, the chick begins to die, and the kidnapper-a lonely boy-must place his trust in another child if the bird is to survive....

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Overview

A kestrel chick is born and shares a nest high above a school yard with his brother and sister. They spend their days looking out over the playground, testing the wind with their downy wings, and awaiting their parents and the food they bring. But one day someone else arrives and takes one of the chicks. Torn from his family, the chick begins to die, and the kidnapper-a lonely boy-must place his trust in another child if the bird is to survive. . . .

A baby falcon is stolen from its nest in the schoolyard wall by a lonely boy, who returns it when it will not eat and watches it take its first flight.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Janet Morgan Stoeke
All the more endearing because of it's first person narrative, this exceptionally beautiful book is a delight to recommend. The baby falcon, or windhover, tells his own story of watching his siblings hatch out, and growing up in a nest high above a schoolyard. He is terrified when a dark shape gathers him up and carries him off. It is a boy from the schoolyard, one the falcon has seen standing off by himself. This boy wants the falcon to be his pet. But the falcon can't eat the food he brings and is soon weak and thin. A girl from school gives him sound advice and some much-needed friendship when she tells him, "If you put him back, I promise not to tell." Our dear windhover returns to health and grows strong once he is back with his family. The author manages to convey the feeling we'd imagine a bird might have upon learning to fly: "Suddenly I feel the thickness of the air and the wind lifting me. I launch myself off the ledge and the air carries me up and across the yard to the pole. I can fly!" The artist furthers the illusion that you are the falcon by his well-chosen vantagepoints throughout. Tight close-ups in the nest, soft-focus overviews of the schoolyard, and several dizzying birds-eye views all have the effect of putting the reader right there. That, and the fact that they're gorgeously rendered pastels make this book a great pleasure to read and share.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3Bold pastel pictures drawn from various perspectives illustrate this story of a kestrel known in Britain as a windhover from its hatching to a harrowing capture by a lonely boy. Plucking the bird from its nest in a school nook, the proud child shows it around the playground. However, this only brings him entreaties to return the small falcon to its nest because it is clearly thin and starving. He puts it back, where it grows stronger until it can leave the nest on its own, and later the children cheer its first flight. While the story, told in first-person from the bird's point of view, begs believability, it does reinforce the joys of observing animals and the responsibility humans have to leave them where they find them.Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
Kirkus Reviews
In the classic tradition of wildlife stories—from Born Free to Free Willy—a creature is plucked from the wild and caged, then eventually reintroduced to its natural habitat. A windhover chick narrates how it broke out of its shell in the family perch atop a schoolyard building. Two hands, belonging to a creature with "no musty bird smell," grab the tiny bird and put it behind bars. The windhover recognizes the boy as a loner on the playground, Dan Foster. It grows thinner, until Dan is convinced by a classmate that the right thing to do is to set the bird free. Readers who have cared for wild creatures will recognize Dan's struggle with his conscience; it's no surprise that he is redeemed by his decision and makes a friend, too. In fact, the book unfolds like clockwork; by keeping to the bird's perspective, all emotion and urgency is washed from the tale. Birmingham illustrates the story in fuzzy, muted pastels that resemble Mark Graham's work; he zeroes in on the windhover in captivity and in flight in full-page portraits, and varies his compositions with close-ups of the children's faces and aerial shots from the windhover's-eye view.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152011871
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/15/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.71 (w) x 10.55 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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