Saturday, November 2, 2013

Wild Wings by Gill Lewis

It is thanks to one of my younger students that I took the time to read Wild Wings.  I did start this book months ago but did not get past the first few chapters.  My student in Grade 2 renewed this book several times and, when she finished, it was clear she really enjoyed it.  I did think this book looked a little beyond a Grade 2 level so I was curious to read it for myself.

This book does require some reading stamina.  The first section is quite slow then everything changes in chapter 18. Callum and Iona  become close friends.  Iona shows Callum the nest of an osprey, which is an endangered bird, living on Callum's farm in a remote part of Scotland.  They watch these birds every day for months as the nest is built, the female osprey they name Iris arrives and eventually the eggs hatch into chicks which rapidly grow into independent adults.  Sadly Iona becomes suddenly very ill.  Callum is determined to keep his promise to care for Iris but how can he do this when she flies away to The Gambia in Africa. Luckily, with the help of a local wildlife ranger, they attach a tracking device to Iris.  As they track her migration the signal suddenly stops.  Callum is desperate to find Iris so he sends off a series of emails to strangers in The Gambia near where the signal was last transmitted.  He is contacted by Jeneba, a young girl who has been hospitalized following a bad accident.  Jeneba finds Iris but she herself needs urgent medical attention and so Callum enlists the help of everyone in his Scottish village to the raise the funds to support this young girl.  In the final scenes Jeneba arrives in Scotland and Callum takes her to see the osprey which have once again migrated to this remote part of Scotland.

"And suddenly it was as if Iona were with us, there on the mountain.  It was as if she had always been there.  I curled my fingers around the locket and held it in my hand.  My eyes burned hot with tears that wanted to come.  'Here,' I said.  I put the locket into Jeneba's palm. 'My friend would have wanted you to have this."

I have now discovered this book has a different title (Sky Hawke) in the UK so I have put both covers here.  I do hope the title and cover picture is all that has been changed as we have the US edition.  This book has won five awards including one from Kirkus - see the quote below.  If you enjoy this book you might also enjoy Hoot by Carl Hiaasen.

Here is the author web site.

With universal themes of life and death, friendship and respect for the natural world, this is still quite particular, a powerfully memorable story of a boy’s grief and determination to keep a promise.

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