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Review: Wild Wings June 27, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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As a general rule, it’s easier to sell paperback books, particularly for birthday presents, or family members buying for a child they don’t know very well. I was glad to see Wild Wings by Gill Lewis, out in paperback a few weeks ago, because I think it’s a strong book that lots of kids will enjoy.

I first picked up Wild Wings at the library, because I saw it was set in Scotland. Last year I made a concentrated effort to read newer books aloud to my class, rather than just the classics that I loved hearing as a kid. The natural details in this book, along with the relatively short chapters, made it a hit with my class.

Wild Wings is the story of Callum and Iona–two kids in the highlands of Scotland, who discover an osprey, an endangered wild species, living on Callum’s farm. Together they agree to keep the bird a secret for fear of poachers and they observe and help it thrive in the woods. With the help of a ranger, they are even able to tag the osprey so they can follow its migration pattern all the way to Africa. But there are unknown dangers for both birds and humans, and when unthinkable challenges come up, everyone must work together to save the osprey.

This book covers a lot of issues, particularly for a middle grade book. Endangered species, absent parents, illness and inadequate healthcare and poverty of far-away countries are all touched upon at some point. It’s a lot to stuff into one stand alone story, but Lewis makes it all work. The tragic events that happen mid-way through the book make the somewhat fairy tale ending work, because only a stickler for absolute realism would begrudge the characters the joy of watching the osprey’s flight. Lewis gives background information on ospreys in an authors note, and she also provides Internet resources where readers can see photos and footage of real ospreys and follow their migrations online.

Give this book to kids who love animals or are studying endangered species. Or read it yourself, if you need a reminder of the amazing things humans can accomplish, when we work together.

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