The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry

Danna Smith, illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7992-7
Sweeping views of a medieval castle and its rural surroundings frame this lyrical look at the ancient sport of falconry. The daughter of a castle falconer narrates as she and her father take their goshawk out to hunt: “This is the arm Father raises just right/ that signals our hawk when it’s time to take flight./ With a stretch of his wings, he flies from the fist/ and soars above the castle.” Though not cumulative, the narrative recalls the rhythmic “The House That Jack Built”; each of Smith’s (Arctic White) four-line stanzas begins with “this is” or “these are” and ends with “the castle.” Ibatoulline’s (The Matchbox Diary) stunningly realistic acrylic and gouache scenes illustrate from all angles, offering close-ups of the hawk, pastoral panoramas, and breathtaking aerial vistas. Small rectangular insets contain factual asides about hawking, and an author’s note gives a brief history of the sport and its traditions. What young readers may appreciate most, though, is the story, beautifully presented, of the bonding between a daughter and father. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Ronnie Ann Herman, Herman Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Nancy Gallt, Gallt and Zacker Literary. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/06/2017
Release date: 04/11/2017
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