cover image Sky Dancer

Sky Dancer

Jack Bushnell. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-05288-1

The open skies and simple beauty of a farmland in winter provide a stark background for the story of the friendship between young Jenny and a wild hawk. The two connect instantly when the bird arrives one frosty February morning. It remains perched in a nearby tree for several days, seemingly as interested in watching Jenny as she is in watching it. But local farmers are itching to shoot whichever hawk has been preying on their chickens: "" `As far as I'm concerned,' said Owen Tibbs, `you can take all the hawks and coyotes you can find and drop 'em off the edge of the earth. I wouldn't miss 'em.' "" When a farmer comes for the hawk with a rifle, Jenny must defend it. Bushnell (Circus of the Wolves) conveys the intense affection of a person for a wild creature, a love that is untainted by assumptions about ownership and obedience; the hawk is nobody's pet. Unusual descriptions render familiar scenes fresh: ""When the sun set and the hawk turned deep black, like a hole in the sky above her, [Jenny] walked back to the house."" Ormerod's (Moonlight; One Hundred One Things to Do with a Baby) large watercolors have the cool glow of evening sun and Jenny's silhouette often echoes the shape of the hawk's wings, reinforcing the parallels between them. This thought-provoking book will stir the souls of nature-lovers and encourage all readers to see in themselves the free and wild at heart. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)