Jonathan and the Giant Eagle

Eye of Newt. Jun. 2021. 32p. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781777081751.
Gr 1-2–Along with being written in seriously ungainly verse, this addition to the “giant pet” genre is guaranteed to leave readers confused about its message or import. Rather than wishing for a dog or cat the seven year-old narrator opts for a giant eagle—which immediately swoops down: “I knew my neighbors were gawking from across the street./ I mean, how many kids have a pet bird with a wingspan over thirty-six feet?” After being inseparable companions for a time, the lad at last tearfully bids it goodbye…only to have it return one indeterminately later morning and with an ominous sense of finality carry him off into the sunrise. Since taking the abrupt ending at face value just leaves the story, like the narrator, in midair, is this all intended as eschatological metaphor, with the eagle serving as some sort of spirit guide or end of life psychopomp? Christopher offers a magnificent golden eagle in the illustrations but no clarity, depicting the bird peering through a window at the end with an anatomically improbable smile on its face and Jonathan as just a distant dot riding away.
VERDICT A head scratcher, both hard to read for its stumbling cadences and, being obscure rather than ambiguous, likely to be passed over rather than engaged with.

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