At first, all I could see was the head of a bird above a pile of sticks, a creamy head with a brown stripe across the eye. Then the rest of the bird appeared. It was huge, with dark brown wings and a white belly. There was something prehistoric about it, like a beast of a lost world, too big for this landscape (p 28).
The first time Callum saw Iona McNair, she was standing as if frozen in a cold river. Moments later, she plucks a trout out of the water with her hands. Callum’s friends Rob and Euan recognize her though, and send her away. Torn between his mates and a girl he finds intriguing, Callum doesn’t always do the right thing. But she has shared a secret with him. Osprays have returned to Scottland and they are nesting on Callum’s farm.
This story had shades of Bridge to Terabithia and Flipped to it but the characters here are never as fully endeared to the reader as they are in those excellent books. However, characters are clearly draw and their interactions realistic, though unsentimental and blunt in their portrayal.
The writing is stronger when the author tackles nature and the animals therein; therefore, readers will eagerly follow the female osprey, Iris, whose journey from Scotland to Africa and back again is tracked by Callum, his buddies and eventually their whole school. Some of my favorite chapters were those intermittent ones told from Iris’s perspective.
The novel includes beautiful illustrations by Yuta Onoda. It has received a starred review from Kirkus.
Library copy | Antheum Books for Young Readers, a division of Simon & Schuster | 304 pages | May 24, 2011 | ISBN 978-1442414457 | $15.99