FICTION

The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry

illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. 40p. further reading. index. websites. Candlewick. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763679927.
COPY ISBN
RedReviewStarK-Gr 3—A serene journey through a medieval landscape with a falconer and his daughter. Each spread features a four-line stanza that describes an aspect of falconry and ends with "the castle": "This is the glove with scratches and flaws/which protects Father's hand from razor-sharp claws/that grasp with ease and hold on tight/as we make our way from the castle." The lilting meter is complemented by smaller text inserts that provide additional information (about the falconer's gauntlet, the practice of casting, etc.) and contribute to the overall usability of the work. Ibatoulline's stunning illustrations depict the father/daughter pair hunting and learning together in a landscape of brilliant color and detail: the fabric folds in their cloaks, the hawk's feathers, and the lush green flora. There are also a number of action poses of the hawk swooping in with talons ready that are sure to amaze readers. Back matter includes a note by Smith that offers further context on the personal inspiration behind the book (the author's father was a falconer), the origins of falconry in China and the Middle East, its popularity in the Middle Ages, and issues facing falconers today (roads, power lines, etc.).
VERDICT An imaginative and unique title to introduce elementary schoolers to hawks and falconry in a medieval setting—an ideal read-aloud selection, too.

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