The third of three owl chicks hesitates to fly, requiring much encouragement from its parents.
As they did in Don’t Let Go! (2003), veteran collaborators Willis and Ross here allude to both the terrors and rewards of a child’s first steps toward independence. The repetitive, alliterative poem and realistic pictures work together to tell the story. Ross' illustrations vary in size and placement on the white pages. Done with pastels on a textured base, they show barn owls with endearing, heart-shaped faces. Father hunts and brings food; mother looks out from their woodland tree cavity. One especially sweet image has both parents looking on as lovingly as owls can look as the last chick hatches from its egg. Later, readers see the first two chicks flapping, flipping, flopping and flying. When the third chick worries she might be eaten by a crow or hit by a train, the color deepens: Against a deep red sky a looming steam engine threatens. The chick clings desperately to a tree branch; Father tries to pull her free. At last, she flies. But that’s not the end. “Snow came. Crow came. Spring came. / But what became of this last chick?”
This gentle read-aloud looks forward to the time when the child will have a young one of her own. (Picture book. 3-7)