cover image Condor's Egg

Condor's Egg

Chronicle Books, Jonathan London. Chronicle Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-0260-4

This eminently approachable book gives eloquent testament to the first pair of California condors to return to the wild since 1987, when the threat of extinction prompted conservators to bring the last of these birds into captivity. A spare, tightly constructed story-the fate of a single, watched-over egg amid a terrifying thunderstorm-gains breadth through London's (Liplap's Wish, reviewed above) use of repeated images and his dramatic pacing. The egg-shaped lake nestled among the mountains presages the condors' own egg; the ominous branches of lightning appear again in the crack of the egg's shell: ``Is this the end-or the beginning-of a new life?'' Descriptive verse captures the essence of the condor: ``Companion of the sun and wind,/ friend of the wild mountain silence.'' By following the text carefully and literally, Chaffee's pictures support rather than embellish or divert from London's poetry. Readers at the upper end of the target group will be hungry for the ``More About Condors'' supplement at the end. Ages 4-10. (Sept.)