I read this book in less than a day whilst on holiday staying in Aviemore in the north of Scotland. Part of its appeal, of course, was that it is set reasonably locally and because we too became fascinated by the breeding pair of ospreys at the nearby RSPB centre.
It was quite a coincidence. It just happened to be the next in my pile of books to read. As soon as I read the first few pages I got that feeling that the universe knows what it is doing.
About the book
I’d class this as a normal fluent reader book suitable for Key Stage 2 readers and probably appealing to older junior school children. The main characters are in their last year of primary school. It is about nature, relationships, friendship, otherness and loss. The edition I read contained some excellent endorsements by children, one of whom compared Gill Lewis to Michael Morpurgo.
Why it works
The story is both dramatic and feasible enough. It ratchets through acceptable twists and turns, with something else happening at exactly the right moment. This and the short chapters help to maintain a fast pace. The characters are well drawn and we are totally with protagonist Callum all the time. The research into the ospreys I can guarantee has been thorough so we might presume that what is included about Gambia is also accurate.
About the ospreys
Yes, it really all happens. They migrate to Africa for the winter and return to Scotland to nest and breed in the spring. The male leaves the UK later and returns earlier. Many are fitted with tracking devices so that their migration can be monitored. Eventually, the tracker falls off. All of this happens in Lewis’ story.
I wonder, is it the male’s responsibility to maintain the nest? As we watched the web cam for an hour or so he was certainly fascinated by a piece of wood he’d brought into the nest. Was this the equivalent of a visit to B & Q?
You can also watch them here.