A strangely tender story of love, loss, and devotion that is imbued with the rhythms of its creatures: a slow, compelling rhythm to match the placid determination of a reindeer named Caesar, offset by the quick, bright, frantic rhythms of the sparrows he is attempting to help. When Piorello, a sparrow, is injured by flying into a window of a house, Elsbeth, the kind-hearted girl who is visiting her grandmother there, takes him back with her to a British boarding school. Separated by a sea from his mate, Bette, and their chicks, Piorello trains frantically with a flock of geese for the long-distance flight back. In the meantime, Bette and the chicks embark on a search for Piorello by affixing their nest to the antlers of a gentle reindeer, Caesar, who is journeying into the wilderness with supplies for his human friends. Although this is an adventure of survival and longing, brushed with a wisp of magic, it is also a treatise on the nature of love: of mate for mate, creature for creature, adult for child, human for animal. In his first book for children, aided by the black-and-white chapter drawings that launch each chapter, Hansen (for adults, The Chess Garden, 1995) creates a timeless atmosphere for a tale that is as unusual as it is accomplished.