Sweeping views of a medieval castle and its rural surroundings frame this lyrical look at the ancient sport of falconry. The daughter of a castle falconer narrates as she and her father take their goshawk out to hunt: “This is the arm Father raises just right/ that signals our hawk when it’s time to take flight./ With a stretch of his wings, he flies from the fist/ and soars above the castle.” Though not cumulative, the narrative recalls the rhythmic “The House That Jack Built”; each of Smith’s (Arctic White) four-line stanzas begins with “this is” or “these are” and ends with “the castle.” Ibatoulline’s (The Matchbox Diary) stunningly realistic acrylic and gouache scenes illustrate from all angles, offering close-ups of the hawk, pastoral panoramas, and breathtaking aerial vistas. Small rectangular insets contain factual asides about hawking, and an author’s note gives a brief history of the sport and its traditions. What young readers may appreciate most, though, is the story, beautifully presented, of the bonding between a daughter and father. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Ronnie Ann Herman, Herman Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Nancy Gallt, Gallt and Zacker Literary. (Apr.)
Ibatoulline invites you into his sweeping, realistic scenes with cleverly shifting perspectives. But perhaps most thrilling is a book with a castle featuring a girl who’s curious and accomplished, with her social status and marital prospects blissfully beside the point.
—The New York Times Book Review
Ibatoulline’s (The Matchbox Diary) stunningly realistic acrylic and gouache scenes illustrate from all angles, offering close-ups of the hawk, pastoral panoramas, and breathtaking aerial vistas...What young readers may appreciate most, though, is the story, beautifully presented, of the bonding between a daughter and father.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Ibatoulline’s stunning illustrations depict the father/daughter pair hunting and learning together in a landscape of brilliant color and detail...An imaginative and unique title to introduce elementary schoolers to hawks and falconry in a medieval setting—an ideal read-aloud selection, too.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Mr. Ibatoulline’s fine, realistic pictures of castle, landscape and soaring predator have a wonderful feeling of sweep and drama. In small panels, Ms. Smith supplements her poetry with falconry facts and historical context.
—The Wall Street Journal
A trained hawk serves as fierce centerpiece to broad, sweeping views of castle and countryside in this rhapsodic tribute to the craft of falconry...An idyllic picture of an ancient practice.
The fictional narrative gives the book structure, while the details of falconry add interest and purpose. In the author’s note, Smith tells of learning “the ancient sport” from her father, a falconer. A beautifully designed and illustrated volume.
The author presents the story in lyrical form and includes information boxes on each page, which goes into more detail about each subject...I would recommend this book for children in fifth grade, but it would be a nice read aloud for fourth graders. This book belongs in all libraries.
—School Library Connection
Ibatoulline’s lush, painterly spreads work in harmony with the text, tantalizing viewers with visual details of the garb and accouterments (both bird’s and falconer’s) of the sport, and immediately supplying answers as quickly as a listener can formulate a question.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Acclaimed artist Bagram Ibatoulline takes us back to medieval times with his glorious, detailed paintings in this fascinating story about falconry, as told by the young daughter of the falconer at a castle.
Here a Northern California author writes with special affection for falconry...Both enthusiastic and knowledgeable about this ancient sport, Smith concludes with a caveat: "Birds of prey must always be treated with care and respect."
—San Francisco Chronicle
K-Gr 3—A serene journey through a medieval landscape with a falconer and his daughter. Each spread features a four-line stanza that describes an aspect of falconry and ends with "the castle": "This is the glove with scratches and flaws/which protects Father's hand from razor-sharp claws/that grasp with ease and hold on tight/as we make our way from the castle." The lilting meter is complemented by smaller text inserts that provide additional information (about the falconer's gauntlet, the practice of casting, etc.) and contribute to the overall usability of the work. Ibatoulline's stunning illustrations depict the father/daughter pair hunting and learning together in a landscape of brilliant color and detail: the fabric folds in their cloaks, the hawk's feathers, and the lush green flora. There are also a number of action poses of the hawk swooping in with talons ready that are sure to amaze readers. Back matter includes a note by Smith that offers further context on the personal inspiration behind the book (the author's father was a falconer), the origins of falconry in China and the Middle East, its popularity in the Middle Ages, and issues facing falconers today (roads, power lines, etc.). VERDICT An imaginative and unique title to introduce elementary schoolers to hawks and falconry in a medieval setting—an ideal read-aloud selection, too.—Jeffrey Meyer, Mount Pleasant Public Library, IA
A trained hawk serves as fierce centerpiece to broad, sweeping views of castle and countryside in this rhapsodic tribute to the craft of falconry.The text unfurls in partly rhymed stanzas that all end, "House That Jack Built"-style, with the word "castle" and so take on an incantatory tone. In it, a white child follows her falconer father as he prepares and carries a hawk—"a sight to behold, / a master of flight, graceful and bold"—out for a day's hunting. In inset corner boxes Smith fills in details about how trained birds of prey are traditionally fed and housed, how they hunt, and the purposes of bells and other specialized gear. She then closes with a note on falconry through the ages to today and lists of informational sources in print and online. With his customary skill Ibatoulline depicts hawk (probably a goshawk) and prey with every feather distinct, light-skinned figures clad in exactly detailed late-medieval dress and armor, an idealized European castle, and aerial views of thatched roofs and gently rolling countryside. Although the hawk is depicted about to snatch up a grouse and is later shown crouched over it on the ground, the rending and tearing bits are left out of view. An idyllic picture of an ancient practice. (index) (Informational picture book. 8-11)