A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
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What's the story?
Set primarily in rural Scotland, the adventure begins when Iona (a girl shunned as "crazy" and "strange" by her classmates) shows Callum an osprey nest she has spotted on his farm. These endangered birds live mostly on a nearby preserve, and it's unusual and very special for one to be nesting on private land. They decide they should keep the nest a secret, which tests Callum's other friendships. However, it also builds a strong bond between Callum and Iona, insures the safety of the osprey, and leads to an amazing adventure. Tragedy strikes Iona, but not before the two friends enlist the help of a nearby naturalist who untangles the bird from fishing line, and fits her with a transmitter to track her migration to Africa. From there, the adventure broadens: one friendship comes to a tragic end, other friendships are mended, and a new one brings a Gambian girl, and the osprey, back to Scotland.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about books that deal with death. Can you think of other books or movies that deal with a friend's death? How does this book handle this painful topic? Why did the author include this plot point?
What do you think of the book's title? Does it fit the story? What title would you have chosen for it?
For kids who love animals
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.