A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Kids will learn about ospreys, their nesting habits and migration, as well as the kinds of high-tech tracking devices environmentalists use while observing wildlife. They will also get a vivid glimpse of the rural Scotland landscape, that of Gambia, and of places along the route in between the two.
In different ways, Callum, his friends, and all of the townspeople learn that it's important to be loyal to each other, show compassion to all living beings, and keep promises even when it's difficult.
Positive Role Models
Callum, Iona, and Jeneba are kids with dreams, imaginations, and the purest of hearts. Though at first Callum is pressured by his friends to dismiss Iona as "crazy" and "strange," he befriends her and that changes everything. Callum's parents and Hamish, the local naturalist, make things right on the Scottish end; Max and Mama Binta support Jeneba in Gambia. Iris, the osprey, is the purest of all and pulls them all together.
Violence & Scariness
Two 11-year-old friends get in a fistfight, and one gets punched in the nose. An osprey gets tangled in a fishing line, and later has to fight against wind, rain, desert sand, and the sea to survive. One young girl dies of meningitis, and another is recovering from two broken legs.
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Some belittling name calling, like "stupid," "no good," "thief," and so on, but nothing beyond that.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One of the main characters, Iona, has been abandoned by her mother and has to live with her grandfather, who generally reeks of whisky and is also senile.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book deals with some heavy material, including an endangered animal, and the death of a major character, who is a child. Told in the voices of both an 11-year old boy and the female osprey he cares for, the narrative centers around the bird but also pulls together ideas about friendship, loyalty, and trust. Kids will learn about ospreys, their nesting habits and migration, as well as the kinds of high-tech tracking devices environmentalists use while observing wildlife -- and learn important lessons about compassion and kindness. Before the sudden death of Callum's friend, she is bullied by some classmates. Also, another character loses her legs to amputation.
Is It Any Good?
This suspenseful, fast-paced book is poetic and packed with solid information about wildlife. It's also a bit of a tearjerker. In language that manages to be both descriptive and to-the-point, WILD WINGS tells a moving story that borders on the unbelievable at times. Still, full-bodied characters and the author's attention to detail keep it grounded. This one will appeal to mid-grade boys and girls alike, especially animal lovers who will connect with its message about saving endangered wildlife.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.