Sky Hawk by Gill Lewis

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Sky Hawk by Gill Lewis

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lovely story of love, loss and conservation and how one wild bird can bring friends, families and even strangers together. This one will be great within a school context, but is just as fulfilling to read at home. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: May 2011
Publisher: OUP
ISBN: 0192756230

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Rob and Euan want to chase Iona McNair off Callum's farm. She's newly returned to the village, staying with her grandfather, her mother nowhere to be seen. It's a close community and rumours abound - and Iona is a bit of a pariah amongst the children. But something about her draws Callum in and Iona returns the favour by trusting him with her deepest secret: she's found an osprey's nest high above the loch and she's desperate to protect the endangered birds. And so the two of them forge a friendship as they try to keep Iris and her mate out of harm's way.

And Iris changes everything for Callum.

As he tries to keep the promise he made to Iona, he follows the story of this majestic bird from Scottish mountains and lochs to Gambian mangrove swamps. He finds friendship in unexpected places. He discovers fear and loss and grief. But he is also inspired to reach further and higher than he'd ever dreamed he could...

I loved Sky Hawk - it's a tremendously assured debut novel and it reminded me very much of the books Michael Morpurgo writes. It feels fresh and natural and spontaneous and I really felt as though I'd got inside Callum's skin. It's a lovely story told through landscape and it does a great job of showing the interconnectedness of the natural world. Iris the osprey divides her time between Scotland and Africa and her journeys unite two very different children from very different communities on very different continents. And yet the ties that unite them are much stronger than all those differences.

It's about conservation and the value of nature and tradition. It's about friendship, and love and loss and grief. And I found it utterly joyful to read. Lewis writes with great clarity but she's also put a great deal of emotion into this book, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I shed a tear or two between the smiles. I can see teachers wanting to share this one with their classes because its themes are simultaneously diverse and universal, but I also think it's a book for all ages to savour at home.

Highly recommended.

My thanks to the good people at OUP for sending the book. And note that it's called Wild Wings in the United States! We also have a review od Sky Dancer by Gill Lewis.

I don't give nearly enough recommendations for books where animals can be an agent of change! How about some classics - One-Eyed Cat by Paula Fox or The Peppermint Pig by Nina Bawden. And just because it's lovely, there's always Born To Run by Michael Morpurgo.

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