________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 36. . . .May 16, 2014


Skydiver: Saving the Fastest Bird in the World.

Celia Godkin.
Toronto, ON: Pajama Press, 2014.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-927485-61-3.

Subject Headings:
Peregrine falcon-Juvenile literature.
Endangered species-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

**** /4



It is spring. High in the sky, a peregrine falcon heads north. She flies on and on until she spots a familiar cliff face. This is her nesting site, where she returns year after year. She descends and lands gently on a rocky ledge near the top.

The peregrine waits patiently for her mate to join her. When her sharp eyes spot his familiar shape, she lets out a welcome cry: "Witchew, witchew."


Celia Godkin is an award-winning author and illustrator who has a great affinity for natural history and the environment. Her many books for children dealing with those topics have made her a favourite with educators and parents.

     Choosing the peregrine falcon as the subject of her latest book is a wise, if not brilliant, choice. There is something about raptors that is particularly fascinating to the young. Perhaps it is their speed or their power or what appears to us as brutality that holds us in awe of these birds of prey.

      Godkin's writing is clear and concise and well-researched. She zeroes in on the connection between the widespread use of DDT and its effect on the peregrine falcon After the ban on this substance had been instituted in the early 70's, many bird populations had begun to recover.

The peregrine falcon, however, had disappeared from great tracts of its former territory. To save this spectacular flyer--the fastest bird in the world--people had to make a special effort.

     The author explains how taking a clutch of eggs will result in a second clutch being laid and raised. Bird experts and volunteers take eggs to a warm protected sanctuary where the fragile eggs have a good chance at survival. Some birds are raised by hand, bred with a captive male, and kept in the sanctuary to raise many broods of chicks. Some will be released into the wild. Some may be settled at the ledge of a skyscraper where they will learn to hunt for themselves, swooping and diving on live pigeons. Godkin notes that, in spite of many setbacks, the peregrine rescue effort has been a success.

internal art      The author/illustrator's dramatic full-colour paintings illuminate each page. Her "Author's Note" at the end of the book lists resources which young readers will enjoy finding on a computer, including a National Geographic website with a video on the peregrine falcon doing its skydiving!

      Skydiver: Saving the Fastest Bird in the World is well worth a place on the shelves of the wildlife section in an elementary school library.

Highly Recommended.

Valerie Nielsen, a retired teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB, a city that has peregrines nesting on the top of one of Winnipeg’s modest skyscrapers.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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