Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Hawk Rising

I love when a picture book gives you a little window into the story on the jacket and title page.

In the beginning, if you look closely, Hawk Rising shows two birds sitting in a tree near a house. The next two pages are filled to overflowing with the Red-tailed Hawk family sitting in their nest. As the story progresses, Gianferrari and Floca tell and illustrate the ways that a girl and her younger sister rising in the morning mimic the birds awakening for the day. Stretching, waiting for breakfast...and we then see Father Hawk searching for breakfast for his chicks. "He leans--then dives." Some prey is safe, shielded by branches. Others drive the hawk away. Finally, towards the end of day, Father Hawk grabs a squirrel and, back in the nest, "Chicks screech and jostle, no longer waiting." Everyone has eaten and is safe in bed for the night, awaiting the next day.

The sparse, poetic text is very well complemented by Caldecott-winner Brian Floca's intricate art. Notice how his watercolors progress from the dark night to the brightness of day and then subtly fade back to darkness. His watercolor techniques provide a lot of detail and realism to the hawk's feathers and talons. Both the text and the illustrations invite reading aloud and re-reading, savoring the beauty of these birds.

(I need to add that Brian is a native Texan, although he lives in New York. I had the pleasure of working with him when he created the art for the Texas State Library's Summer Reading Program. I doubt that I would ever find fault with his art. If you are not familiar with his other works, check them out!)

(Art copyright Brian Floca)

While Hawk Rising focuses on the Red-tailed Hawk, and the last two pages offer facts about the species, much of the information is transferable to other raptors. The suggested readings include books on other raptors and links for websites, including Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Red-tailed Hawk cam. (As of the end of May there are chicks in the nest that can be viewed on the cam, along with a narrative about what the birds are doing.) Gianferrari is also the author of other great nature books, including a companion volume, Coyote Moon, which explores the nocturnal hunting habits of another urban critter and is definitely worth reading.

Red-tailed Hawk (image used
under license from Creative Commons)
Hawks of various types are frequent visitors to backyards and wooded urban settings so it's fairly easy for young birders to see them. It's harder to actually identify them or photograph them so Hawk Rising offers an excellent opportunity for up-close study. Red-tailed Hawks are large, almost eagle-sized, with broad, rounded wings and a short, wide tail.  As with many species, there are color variations but most Red-tailed Hawks are brown above with a pale, streaked belly. The tail is pale on the bottom and cinnamon-red on top. When they flap their wings it is a heavy beat. They often sit on poles and high fences in open areas and they are magnificent to see!

Readers of this blog post are invited to post a comment here and/or subscribe to the blog (do both and you get two entries in the giveaway).  From comments and subscriptions entered between June 5 and June 15, one name will be drawn at random to receive a copy of Hawk Rising from the publisher, Roaring Brook Press. The winner will be contacted to get a mailing address. Sorry, limited to readers in the US only.

I also do seem to be fascinated by hawks. For additional books, see my blog posts H is for Hawk and A Hawk in the Castle.

FTC Disclosure: I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher and/or author. I receive no compensation or benefit for reviewing this book.


  1. Thanks so much for featuring Hawk Rising here, Jeanette!! Love your blog <3 <3

  2. Great post about a great book! Thanks, Jeanette!

  3. What a gorgeous spread! Such a beautiful book!

  4. I love Maria's books and she makes nonfiction fun. I subscribed by email to your blog as I love finding out about new books and authors. Thanks for the post and chance to win a copy.

  5. Thanks so much, Jeanette!! Go hawks!

  6. Be sure to comment here for a chance to win a copy of Hawk Rising

  7. I can’t wait to read this book, I love Hawks and other Birds of Prey!

  8. Happy to report that Alise from MA is the winner of a copy of Hawk Rising! Thanks to Maria Gianferrari and Brian Floca, as well as the publisher Roaring Brook Press, for making this giveaway possible.