The majestic Osprey is an endangered bird that hasn’t been seen in Scotland for years, so when Iona McNair locates an Osprey nest, she’s desperate to keep the bird safe from poachers. She shares her secret with her classmate Callum, and the two become friends as they work to save the Osprey they’ve named Iris. They’re able to get the bird tagged by a preservationist, but after Iris flies to Africa for the winter, her signal becomes stagnant, then lost. Spurred by a promise to Iona, who has fallen ill, Callum is determined to track and save Iris, and a leap of faith and the magic of e-mail connects him with a girl in Gambia who can help him make good—in more ways than one. (goodreads summary)
Eleven year old Callum has a pretty decent life for a young boy living in Scotland. He has a good family, attends a good school, has two best friends and lives on a farm with sprawling woods and a river. One day, Callum and his friends find Iona McNair fishing in the farmsteads river. Iona is living with her grandfather whose family has a bad reputation around his village as being a thief among other things. Iona claims to have a secret that she will share with Callum as long as he never tells anyone. She has located a family of Osprey, an endangered bird species, living on his family's property. Striking up an unlikely friendship, the two promise to keep the nest secret from others while watching over the nesting pair. Then suddenly one day, Iona and Callum find the female bird tangled in fishing line. In order to save it, they must decide on the risk of telling someone. Callum's father contacts Hamish from the local nature preserve. After freeing her, Hamish attaches a transmitter to the bird helping them track her whereabouts via the Internet. When it is time for Iris to migrate in the winter to Africa, they will be able to track her route there and back again to Ireland in the spring. When Iona unexpectedly becomes ill, Callum promises her he will watch over Iris. As Iris begins her journey to Africa, it is not an easy one but Callum's promise gives him extra determination to make sure she returns home again.
This inspiring story is for the nature lover and those that have a heart for saving our endangered animals. It is also a story about friendship, standing up and helping others in need as well as strength and determination for a cause. The other kids made fun of Iona because of her background but Callum saw something in her the others did not. He saw the passion in her heart for saving the endangered Osprey family and her inner beauty through her drawings of them as well. When it is time for Iris to migrate to Africa, Callum looses her signal and fears the worst. In his determination, he sends out e-mails to locate somebody in Africa that would be willing to help locate her. He corresponds with a 10 year old girl, named Jeneba from Gambia, who is in the hospital willing to enlist her family and village in the search for Iris. Through the Internet and e-mails, Callum deepens his friendship with her and Iris connects the two in more ways than one. The book offers children a good perspective of other countries and how different they are from our own. Things we have at hand for us are not necessarily there for others as Callum had also learned. But even though Jeneba faces many personal challenges in her country, her village was willing to help someone they did not know miles away. It turns out, the people of Gambia feel the Osprey brings them good fishing when it returns to Africa every year and they welcome the birds presence. Reading how the kids got their heads together to problem solve and also help others in need was inspiring. There were many moments of character development especially for Callum's friends who were a bit insensitive at times. The use of technology was a great demonstration of how children can connect different places and bring that diversity together. It had plenty of Scottish vocabulary words and a good sense of African culture. At the back of the book, the author gave useful websites to learn more about the Osprey. I enjoyed this quick and easy read. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 9-12.~
Title: Wild Wings
Author: Gill Lewis
Genre: realistic fiction
Pub. date: April 2011 - Antheneum Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 287 pgs.