The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry – Danna Smith, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

  The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry – Danna Smith, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline, Candlewick Press, (9780763679927), 2017.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Genre: Non-fiction

What did you like about the book? This well-written, informative book provides a thorough introduction to medieval falconry. The narrator, a young girl, is the daughter of the castle’s falconer. She takes readers on a tour of their rooms in the castle, explains the process of hunting with the hawk, and provides details about its training. Each double page spread contains a lyrical stanza that ends with the words, “the castle.” For instance, “This is the sky that’s filled with the sound / that’s made by our hawk and heard from the ground. / He opens his beak and calls to the wind. / It is music to us at the castle.”  A text box on each page provides a paragraph of information in prose. The illustrations are gorgeously detailed acrylic gouache paintings of scenes within the castle, hunting in the fields, and the hawk’s eye view as it dives toward prey. An author’s note reveals how she knows her subject so well – her father was also a falconer. She also provides a brief history of falconry from ancient times in China to  modern-day and a list of further book and internet resources.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend to elementary school teachers to supplement units on medieval times.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Your choice: Technically, it should be shelved with other fiction picture books, but given the extensive information it provides about medieval times, it could also go in 940.1.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Top quarter of the pile.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review:  7/7/17

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