Monday, December 15, 2008

Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City by Janet Schulman, illustrated by Meilo So

Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City by Janet Schulman, illustrated by Meilo So

Reviewed by Erica Moore

What would you do if your neighbors destroyed your home of nine years? Well thankfully Pale Male had many fans and friends to protest for him.

Pale Male is New York City’s famous red-tailed hawk who came to Central Park when he was very young and stayed. He and a mate built a nest atop an apartment building across from the park. This was the first time people witnessed a red-tailed hawk nest on a building. Pale Male would raise more than 20 chicks in nine years in the nest on 5th Avenue.

In 2004 the building owners removed the nest thanks to the Bush Administration’s weakening of environmental protections. This set off an international outcry accompanied by local New Yorkers protesting. Pale Male’s nest was soon restored.

The story of Pale Male is inspiring--something wild adapts and survives in an urban environment. The writing is smooth and full of information as it unfolds. This is an easy book to share with kids. There is factual information as well as a great story with tension, drama and a perfect resolution. This should inspire new bird watchers. I know it made me get my backyard birding books out of the kitchen drawer and look up the birds at the feeders with my kids.

The illustrations by Meilo So are beautiful. The reader is given a hawk’s eye view as most of the pictures are from a hawk’s perspective as he flies around the park and buildings. The water colors capture the movement of the hawks. I love the picture of the babies leaving the nest and landing nearby. The end papers are the red tails of the hawks, and even the dust jacket has a hawk in flight wrapped around the book with a stick in his beak ready to rebuild that nest.

There have been several picture books about Pale Male since his nest was taken down, and this is my favorite. Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City has received many starred reviews and is sure to show up on recommended book lists.

What Other Bloggers are Saying:

Chicken Spaghetti:
"The ensuing bird-related goings-on make an exciting picture book, and young readers have a fine avian protagonist to cheer for." (read more...)

Fort Lee Children's Room Blog: "
I recommend Pale Male for all ages because it is a story anyone can appreciate and it may just inspire you to learn more about this great animal." (read more...)

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: "
I have one word for you: Endpapers. Man, I wish I had them to show you here. They’re sublime: Pale Male’s auburn hawk feathers, all spread-out and larger-than-life atop a bit of blue sky. Gorgeous, I tell ya. Thank you, Meilo So, for that moment of beauty." (read more...)

Texas Trifles:
"Though I already knew about the New York City hawk's story, this book turns it charmingly into an avian adventure with a heartwarming ending." (read more...)

More Info:
  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (March 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375845585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375845581
  • Source: Review copy from publisher

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