I was fascinated by the structure of this story. The first half of the book seems to be a natural history of peregrine falcons. We see a pair return to their nest, watch the male display for the female, and see them hunt. We see the mother lay a clutch of eggs.
Then, suddenly, there is a human in the illustration. She’s rapelling down the side of the cliff, where the nest is, and she steals the eggs! We’re as mystified as the birds, but they get on with their lives and lay a second clutch of eggs. Tragically, all but one of the eggs breaks before chicks hatch.
And there, in the middle of the book, we move away from the natural history and learn about what made the falcon eggs so dangerously thin and brittle: the pesticide DDT. We watch a protest against DDT, and breathe in relief as it is banned.
In the concluding section of the book, we see what the scientists are doing to help the peregrine falcons recover. We get to see those chicks, hatched from the stolen eggs, and watch how the scientists work with them to preserve their species.
The illustrations of the peregrine falcons are beautiful, and it’s a fascinating and inspiring book that gets into the nuts and bolts of what it takes to help a species back from the brink of extinction.
Skydiver: Saving the Fastest Bird in the World, by Celia Godkin. Pajama Press: 2014.