The Eagles Are Back by Jean Craighead George, illustrated by Wendell Minor
The third book in this pair’s new nature series, this is the story of how people worked together to save the bald eagle from possible extinction. Told through the eyes of a young boy, this is also the story of how children can make a real difference in their world. When the boy climbs to a bald eagle nest, he sees that the eggs in the nest are broken. Only 450 pairs of bald eagles still survived in the wild because of the impact of the pesticide DDT making the eagles’ eggs soft and fragile. The boy meets with a ranger who has a healthy eagle egg for the empty nest. The boy agrees to keep an eye on the pair and see whether they accept the egg. The boy kept watch and saw the eagles adopt the egg, but he also helped by catching fish for the eagles to catch in midair. Readers and the boy get to see the eaglet grow and take her first flight. This is a celebration of how humans can turn things around and help the environment, no matter how young they are.
George writes with plenty of details that really explain the seriousness of the situation that DDT caused. Writing with a child as the main character sends a powerful message to today’s children and the impact that they too can have on issues that are important to them. It is also a clear invitation to enter the wild and explore. George specializes in writing about nature and the environment and always reveals the beauty and wonder of the wilderness.
Minor’s art echoes that beauty and wonder. In gouache and watercolor, he creates images that are soft and inviting. They are also lit from within, giving them the glowing feel of real nature and sunlight on leafy canopies.
Celebrate the return of the eagles with this book, but also make sure that your library collection has the first two about wolves and buffalo. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.