Belle's Journey: An Osprey Takes Flight

illus. by Kate Garchinsky. 112p. further reading. index. photos. websites. Charlesbridge. May 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781580897921.
Gr 3–6—Written in an easy-to-follow and authoritative style, this narrative nonfiction tale recounts the story of a young osprey from her early days in Martha's Vineyard, MA, to her first migration to South America and back. Bierregaard, who has studied the birds for more than 40 years, explains that this is mostly a true story, but that he has imagined some of the details. He caught Belle as a young chick and fastened a radio transmitter to her (worn like a backpack), which sends an account of Belle's travels to the scientist every three days. He knows where she's been, how long it took her to reach certain places, and the weather she encounters along the way. Belle's flight is an instinctual one, readers are told, but that doesn't make it any less exciting. She travels many miles each day, survives a hurricane, visits the Japurá river in Brazil, and avoids threats from humans and other animals. Students will be easily caught up in Belle's story, especially when she encounters dangers for the first time in her young life. Garchinsky's illustrations—done in watercolor pencil, ink, and aqua crayons—are not only lovely to look at but match the book's lively tone. There are also two photographs of the real-life Belle included at the end.
VERDICT A page-turner for animal lovers, this book is a good choice for libraries in need of engrossing nonfiction.

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