Booklist Reviews : Booklist Reviews 2009 June #1 *Starred Review* In thisÂ simple yet powerful story, a mother hen adopts an abandoned egg, only to find that the creature within is something far different from her own earthbound offspring. The strange hatchling, named Hook, is an eaglet with a curved beak and powerful wings meant for much more than life on the ground. The hen prods her foundling to take flight, but Hook's first attempts fail miserably. Then, a Native American boy convinces the discouraged young bird to try and try againâfrom increasingly steep vantagesâuntil Hook's leap of faith off a canyon ridge enables him to soarÂ majestically through the sky. With a minimum of text, Young's inspirational story of perseverance and courage is told mostly through its striking illustrationsâgraceful, sketch-like images of realistic figures and bracing landscapes on a terra-cotta background that evokes the story's southwestern setting. Dynamic perspectives that shift from chick's-eye views to mile-high heights add to the drama of the tale, which ends with resonating scenes of Hook inÂ flight and his adopted siblings looking upward into a dazzling, light-filled sky. This stirring storyÂ will remind readers of the Ugly Duckling, but its timeless message of determination reaches far past theÂ fairy-tale genre. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews : PW Reviews 2009 April #4
Caldecott Medalâwinner Young's enchanting story about an orphaned bald eagle discovered by a Native American boy is set against a vast landscape of canyon, mountain and spruce, as spare as the author's text ("An abandoned egg. A young boy"). The raptor ("a strange chick") is hatched and raised by the boy's hen, who calls him Hook after his curved yellow beak. She quickly perceives his true natureâ"You are not meant for earth," she tells him. Young's pastels, a series of sketches on speckled burnt sienna paper, glow with life. The judicious use of detail is highly effective, and the birds possess an uncanny accuracy. Hook can't work out how to fly, so under a blackened predawn sky the boy takes him to the canyon. The mountains, stained blue in the dawn, look on as Hook is launched from the canyon precipice. Against a shimmering mountain blur, the young eagle plummetsâthen, in triumph, rights himself and soars. A powerful blend of language,imagery and emotion. Ages 2â6. (May)
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School Library Journal Reviews : SLJ Reviews 2009 June
Gr 1â3âYoung's recasting of "The Ugly Duckling" begins with an abandoned egg discovered by a Native American boy who then places it with a sitting hen. Terse lines of text and spare pastel drawings follow the chicken's astonishment over her ungainly chick. "A hook nose?/Let's call him Hook." When he kicks up a dusty storm and contorts his body to look back at her, she is prophetic in her annoyance: "You are not meant for earth." Young sketches the animals in broad strokes, the dark tones of the strange youngster in bold contrast with the orange hen and her chicks; all are shadowed in strokes of blue and accented in bits of yellow. The animals are featured on warm brown pages with no background. Only in scenes where the boy appears are there scratchy forms suggesting background setting. Most of the story features Hook's abysmal efforts at flight. Finally, the boy comes once more to the rescue, carrying the bird first to the top of his pueblo home and finally far off to the ledge of a great canyon. "He spreads his wings,/catching a gust of air./And rises to where he belongsâ¦/For he wasn't meant for earth." Hook's satisfying rise reveals him as a handsome eagle, his soaring figure last viewed from the ground by the family of chickens. Young's suggestive dusky views are by turns confusing, comical, and striking. Along with the minimal narrative, they leave space for readers to ponder and question. They offer nice opportunities for shared reading and, of course, special moments of recognition for readers familiar with Andersen's tale.âMargaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
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