When Eagles Fall

When Eagles Fall

5.0 1
by Mary Casanova

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Things have not been easy for thirteen-year-old Alex lately. Recent events have taken their toll on her family, and when drinking at a party lands her in the hospital, things only get worse. Her mother decides to send her away to spend the summer working with her father, an esteemed eagle researcher, on the wild and remote shores of Rainy Lake in Minnesota. The

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Things have not been easy for thirteen-year-old Alex lately. Recent events have taken their toll on her family, and when drinking at a party lands her in the hospital, things only get worse. Her mother decides to send her away to spend the summer working with her father, an esteemed eagle researcher, on the wild and remote shores of Rainy Lake in Minnesota. The bugs, the outhouse, the isolation—it’s a whole different world from her home in California.

The hardest part of Alex’s exile is dealing with her father who is sure that he knows it all. When he chooses not to save a pair of baby eagles whose nest is in peril, Alex sneaks off to help them anyway. Her rescue effort, however, goes wrong, and one of the eaglets falls out of the nest, breaking a wing. Alex is alone with the helpless eagle, stranded and completely exposed to the elements. Facing hunger, injury, and a bear, she quickly realizes that it will take resources she never knew she had just to keep herself and the bird alive.

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Editorial Reviews

Alex, whose parents are separated, is visiting her biologist father in Minnesota when she is involved in an adventure that turns out to be more than she could have expected. It soon becomes clear that Alex was sent to spend some time with her father because she was having trouble at home in California. Alex and her father, however, also have a strained relationship. The reader can only surmise that their problems stem from how each family member has dealt with the death of Alex's younger brother from cancer. During an eagle-tagging expedition, Alex and her father see a nest with eaglets but the nest is tangled with a dangerous fishing lure. The next day, Alex decides to return to the nest, climb the tree, and remove the lure. She gets a canoe, takes some supplies, and heads off. After she removes the lure, a storm comes up, stranding Alex. Although she is relatively resourceful in what she does for food and shelter, Alex realizes that she is in serious danger and might not be rescued. Alex's mother flies to Minnesota, and because of the crisis, family members finally are forced to address their problems, including her brother's death and her parents' ensuing separation. This fine adventure story features a strong-minded girl who must find a way to survive. As with many teens, she sets out to show her father that she can do something well, but then realizes that she is not quite prepared for the problems she encounters. This story does not match the caliber of Gary Paulsen's Hatchet (Bradbury, 1987/VOYA February 1988) or Robb White's Deathwatch (Doubleday, 1972), but it is satisfying nonetheless. PLB
— Sue Krumbein <%ISBN%>0786806656
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8 After a binge-drinking incident leaves her hospitalized, Alex is "banished" to the wilderness of Minnesota to help her father with his eagle research project. Determined to prove her usefulness, the 13-year-old decides to paddle to a remote island, remove a fishing lure from an eagle's nest, and band the eaglets. However, the rescue operation goes terribly wrong when her actions cause an eaglet to fall from the nest, breaking a wing. Alex quickly realizes that she must take the injured bird to the Ranger Station but rough weather strands her on a bat-infested island with little food and water. Casanova has written an eco-adventure story that also provides valuable information about eagle research; unfortunately, the survival story is hampered by a cloying secondary plot line that focuses on Alex and her inability to cope with the death of her younger brother, which slows the pace of the story. -Doris Losey, Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, Tampa, FL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Thirteen-year-old Alexis has been "banished" (her word) by her mother, who lives in San Diego, to International Falls, Minnesota, where her father is the foremost authority on the bald eagle. He heads a small team who are banding eaglets and researching the eagles' habitat. Alexis is immediately involved and learns quickly, though it's difficult work and complicated further by the swarms of mosquitoes and hot weather. She resents her father's authority and the team's respect for him. In spite of this, she becomes fascinated with the birds and rashly decides to remove a fish lure from an eagle's nest situated on a nearby island. Though successful in climbing the tree, she lifts an eaglet out of the nest and drops it. Then she loses the paddle to the canoe and finds herself stranded on an island with an injured eaglet. For two days she struggles with a storm, a visiting bear, and hunger. She manages to feed the eaglet and herself through fashioning a crude fishing rod. She finds shelter: an abandoned house on the island obviously not used for years. Surprisingly, it is a bat refuge, full of bat dung, with hundreds of bats returning in the evening. Knowing the eaglet must have assistance, in desperation, she sets the house on fire and is rescued. Throughout these difficulties, she finally allows herself to think of her little brother, who has recently died from cancer. Working through her grief, she realizes her father's actions, which she so resented at the time, were a result of a grief as deep as her own. The ending is a bit pat, with the eagle flown to a healing center and her parents beginning to talk to each other. The tale moves along well and will be enjoyed particularly by readersof survivalist stories. The author's note describes her hands-on research with eagle experts and includes several Web sites where naturalists can learn more. (Fiction. 10-12)

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Product Details

University of Minnesota Press
Publication date:
Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Mary Casanova is the author of more than thirty books, ranging from picture books to YA novels, including Frozen (Minnesota, 2012).

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When Eagles Fall 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In San Diego, thirteen-year-old Alexis Castille-Reed attends a pool party where the alcohol flows. An accident occurs, but fortunately no one dies. However, her upset mother 'banishes' Alexis for the summer to live with her father in International Falls, Minnesota.

Alexis¿ dad is the authority on the bald eagles. Currently, he leads a study that is banding eaglets to gain research on their natural habitat. Alexis is put to work, but though she loves the birds, she remains angry with her father for deserting her. On a nearby island, Alexis climbs up a tree to remove a fish lure from an eagle's nest. However, when she lifts an eaglet out of the nest, she drops the bird. That error is compounded when she finds herself stranded on the island protecting the injured eaglet from nasty weather and a bear.

This is a wonderful preadolescent to young teen novel that focuses on Alexis, a person in trouble. She needs closure on her younger brother¿s death from cancer, but at first is not able to find a way to grieve without guilt for living and without alienating her parents also mourning in their own ways. Through the eaglet rescue, Alexis attains an understanding especially of her father whom she previously loathed as well as personal comfort. Though her parents talking with one another following their estrangement feels strained, WHEN EAGLES FALL is a strong survivalist tale that the young at heart will enjoy soaring with.

Harriet Klausner