book review

Wild Wings by Gill Lewis #BookReview and a Multicultural Story of Friendship

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“The pattern of this landscape is folded deep, deep within her memory. She rides the currents of air that curl like rapids over the mountains. Below, the lochs reflect the cloud and sunlight. They lie in the valleys like scattered fragments of fallen sky. The cold north wind carries the remembered scent of pine and heather. The ice-carved valleys guide her.”

She is coming?

So begins the beautiful and touching story of an Osprey, a boy named Callum and a girl with an adventuresome spirit named Iona McNair.  Wild Wings by Gill Lewis tells the griping story of Callum who lives in Scotland and a girl from West Africa who together save a migrating Osprey and saving each other as well.

wild wings

Striving to protect the osprey nesting on his family’s farm in Scotland, 11-year-old Callum McGregor watches the bird throughout summer, uses a computer to follow her migration to Africa and sets in motion a remarkable chain of events. This rich, moving tale begins with a shared secret: It was classmate Fiona McNair who found the nest. When the bird is snagged in fishing line high in her pine, the circle expands to include Callum’s sheep-farming family and a ranger from a nearby preserve. When she migrates, Callum and friends Rob and Euan track her through the transmitter she carries on her back. When her signal disappears in a Gambian mangrove forest, 10-year-old Jeneba, hospitalized with broken legs, mobilizes the fishermen of her village and a visiting American doctor to rescue and rehabilitate her. Eventually—and entirely naturally—the bird’s story reaches around the world. The suspenseful story line is surrounded with precise details: the Scottish landscape, osprey behavior, the work of a sheepdog and the joy and pain of riding a trail bike. Short chapters, some with cliffhanging endings, will read aloud well. Callum’s first-person narrative is occasionally paralleled by the osprey’s own experience, as Callum imagines it. With universal themes of life and death, friendship and respect for the natural world, this is still quite particular, a powerfully memorable story of a boy’s grief and determination to keep a promise. Kirkus Reviews

This is a modern day story which flows easily and grabs the readers attention immediately. It is a captivating story which has us in the countries of Scotland and Gambia. Wild Wings is a perfect combination of fiction based narrative and actual nonfiction facts about Ospreys and their living environments and migration patterns. A perfect read for a child who loves nonfiction as well as enticing a reluctant reader. Wild Wings is also good for the deep thinker and has children reflecting on many deeper issues as hand such as decisions about friendships, not giving up, moving on after losses, and awareness of how we take things for granted in our relatively privileged society.

It is an engaging story of how every one of us makes a difference and working together as a community both near and far can solve what seemed an insurmountable problem. Grab your copy of this wonderful and compelling kidlit book here.

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Something To Do

What would you think if I invited you on an Osprey’s incredible journey, just like the one Callum and his friends took? Flying high above mountain ranges, oceans, and expansive and huge deserts, the osprey travels thousands of miles to migrate to warmer weather. Using satellite tagging, scientists are able to learn more about the osprey’s migration routes and about where they breed and where they winter.

Author Gill Lewis in 2011 followed such a journey and has shared it with all of us. Start here for an amazing high flying adventure.

Osprey Migration


The osprey also known as the fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk, or fish hawk, is a fish eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 24 inches in length and 71 inches across the wings. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts.

The osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. It is found on all continents except Antarctica, although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding visitor.

It’s known as a fish eagle and the osprey’s diet consists almost exclusively of fish.

The osprey weighs between 2 and 4 pounds. 

Osprey Habitat

After the peregrine falcon, the osprey is the second most widely spread raptor in the world. It can be found in mild and tropical climate. In North America it breeds from Alaska and Newfoundland and to the south in the Gulf Coast region as well as Florida. The osprey then winters in South America. In summer it is found throughout northern Europe, in Ireland, Scandinavia, Scotland, England, and Wales but not in Iceland. When in Europe the osprey winters in Africa.

In Australia the osprey doesn’t migrate at all but remains on the coast and then flying to Western Australia to breed.

Common Core Interdisciplinary Curriculum

To learn more about the Osprey here is a very in-depth interactive Curriculum from Friends of Blackwater Reservoir in Maryland called Project Osprey Curriculum  . This guide is very through and covers everything you need for Common Core. Matched with the book Wild Wings, it’s a perfect combination.

Great BBC Program on the Scottish Osprey Conservation Project

Part 1

Part 2

Watch Live

Audubon Society of New Hampshire, includes webcam at Lake Massabesic

Highland Foundation for Wildlife, osprey management in Scotland

Osprey camera at Blackwater Reservoir, Maryland

Osprey nest camera at Loch Garten, Scotland

Osprey nest monitoring,northern England

Learn More About Migration

Journey North, track the journeys of several migratory species

Backpacking Ospreys: Following their migration

Learn and Conserve

The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota

Osprey Project at Rutland Water, United Kingdom

Lake District Osprey Project, Bassenthwaite Lake, England

Glaslyn Osprey Project, Porthmadog, North Wales

Loch of Lower, Dunked, Perthshire

Enjoy Birdwatching!


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Do your young readers love nature and all of nature’s critters? Experience the magical story of a family of foxes that took up residence right in the front yard of the author and publisher, Valarie Budayr. The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden offers an enthusiastically educational opportunity to observe this fox family grow and learn together.

The Fox Diaries
From digging and hunting to playing and resting, this diary shares a rare glimpse into the private lives of Momma Rennie and her babies. Come watch as they navigate this wildly dangerous but still wonderful world. Great to share with your children or students, The Fox Diaries speaks to the importance of growing and learning both individually and as a family unit. It is a perfect book for story time or family sharing. Not only can you read about the daily rituals of this marvelous fox family, there is an information-packed resource section at the end of the book that includes lots of facts and even a few “fox movies” that you can enjoy with your family. Grab your copy of this beautiful and inspiring book HERE.

3 thoughts on “Wild Wings by Gill Lewis #BookReview and a Multicultural Story of Friendship

  1. Wild Wings sounds like a wonderful book! It would pair perfectly with my book “The Call of the Osprey,” a Scientists in the Field book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt chosen as a best book of the year 2015 by the National Science Teachers Association. My book covers basic osprey facts and focuses on research at the University of Montana on heavy metals in the blood of osprey chicks from past mining along the Clark Fork River ( and Facebook page ). It also follows the lives of two osprey pairs in Montana with video cams on their nests. The cams are sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology ( See under “Dunrovin Ospreys” and “Hellgate Ospreys.”).

    1. Hello Dorothy and thank you for stopping by. I agree, I think your book The Call of the Osprey would be a great complimentary book to Wild Wings. Your books are stunning and I just simply love all of the interaction you’ve had with nature and all of the beauty it holds. Please visit Dorothy friendly readers. She’s a wonderful author !!

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