George, who chronicled the return to America’s wild places of wolves and buffalo in two similar titles, now celebrates the comeback of the American bald eagle with a combination of fact and imagination.
Her slight story stars an unnamed boy and eagles known as Uncle Sam and First Lady and is set years ago, when eagles were disappearing, their eggs cracking because of DDT in the food chain. The boy helps the eagles, their own eggs broken, raise an eaglet from a transplanted egg by throwing fish he catches to the parents. Not only does the boy watch the pair brood the egg and nurture the hatchling he calls Alaska, he sees it take flight. Later, as an adult watching 30 eagles over the Hudson River, he can tell his son that he contributed to the eagles’ return. Though presented as true, the incident is undocumented and the threat to eagles in the contiguous 48 states statistically oversimplified. (The vast majority of the half-million eagles here when the Puritans came lived in Alaska, where they were never threatened.) Nonetheless, readers will be cheered by this inspiring picture book, illustrated with Minor’s dramatic gouache-and-watercolor paintings, which portray close-up eagle portraits, vignettes and vast landscapes.
A heartwarming culmination to a distinguished career. (Picture book. 5-9)