A wildlife rehabilitator rescues eggs laid under a coal conveyor belt at a power plant, hatches them, and raises great horned owls to be public ambassadors for their species.
Houts pens a graceful, straightforward account of the rescue of a pair of eggs, carried to safety in Walter Crawford’s shirt pocket. One hatches. “And that’s the way it goes, sometimes,” he says. The survivor is named Coal for his origins and raised by bird sanctuary caregivers to help others learn about owls. Surprisingly, a year or two later, yet another egg appears under the conveyor belt in the power plant. Similarly rescued and hatched, Junior also becomes an owl ambassador. Softly realistic watercolor-and-pastel illustrations accompany the story, accentuating the mystery of the owl’s visits to the coal yard in the night as well as depicting Walter Crawford’s attentive care in the sanctuary. One spread features the owl showing off for a diverse group of schoolchildren sitting at the knee of the trainer, a woman of color. Crawford himself presents white. An author’s note explains the genesis of the story in the history of the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis, Missouri, and the details she had to fill in, including Crawford’s dialogue. That fictional memorable line helpfully reminds readers and listeners of the chanciness of such rescues and, appearing twice, nicely ties the narrative together.
An engaging animal-rescue tale, smoothly told and pleasingly illustrated. (explore more, activities) (Informational picture book. 4-8)