Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at Arrowhawk – A Survival Story.

I’m sure you’ve gathered from reading my posts that animals, both wild and tame, wove their way through My childhood. And despite my father’s frequent complaints about bringing one more critter into the house, female persuasion, which when combined with tears, was powerful enough to win each of his arguments. Thus, there was never a day without feathery, furry, or scaly companionship.

The memory of one animal, in particular, has stayed with me–a wild mallard we found along the road after Thanksgiving. She had broken bones, deep punctures, missing feathers, and didn’t stand a chance of survival if we had left her. The duck moved into our house where we carefully tended her wounds and provided a safe place for her to heal and grow strong enough for release in early spring. Unfortunately, when that day arrived, our feathered guest hadn’t regained the ability to fly. While my father appeared grateful he no longer had to step in duck doo, my mother, sister, and I worried about the safety of our little friend. Because I’m currently writing this story with hopes of publication, I’m going to resist spoiling the ending for you. I’ll just say there were many happy tears. And now for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review about the survival of a different kind of bird.

Title – Arrowhawk

Written by  – Lola M. Schaefer

Illustrated by – Gabi Swiatkowska

Published by – Henry Holt and Company – 2004

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics – determination, courage, survival, nonfiction animal story.

Opening – Hawk, young and strong, soared high above an open field. His large eyes searched the dried grasses below. A mouse raced in and out of the stubble. Hawk swooped down, snatched his prey, and carried it to a fence post. Thre in the autumn sun, he tore and ate the mouse with his hooked beak.

TWWANGGGG! Out of nowhere, an arrow streaked through the air and pierced Hawk’s upper thigh and tail. He screeched in pain. A flash of movement on his left signaled more danger.

(Yes, I included a few lines from page two in this book, but you have to admit they hooked you. Right?) 

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. A hungry red-tailed hawk sits near a fence post and devours his catch. Out of nowhere, a poacher’s arrow pierces his body, seriously injuring him and leaving him to fend for himself.

This is the courageous true story of Arrowhawk-an endangered bird of prey who, with sheer determination and will, survives eight weeks in the wild with a poacher’s arrow through his thigh and tail. Stunning illustrations capture his remarkable journey from peril and rescue to eventual freedom.

Why do I like this book? From page one, the reader knows he or she is in for a quite a ride with the somewhat graphic kill of a mouse. (And, having kept mice as pets, might I add that it was most likely a sweet, twitchy-nosed, innocent, defenseless, little mouse?) Following this, we feel Hawk’s deep pain as a hunter’s arrow pierces his thigh and tail. Only for brief moments does the reader relax as Hawk learns to adapt to his unwelcomed circumstance. As he learns how to survive, more troubles come. The reader is taken on a challenging journey as Hawk proves to be a survivor no matter what troubles come his way. The acrylic paintings illustrating this story are unique in that they lend a softness to the pain we feel for this magnificent bird while fully revealing Hawk’s great strength, struggles, and eventual freedom.

Learn more about Lola M. Schaefer HERE.

Learn more about Gabi Swiatkowska HERE.

Because April is National Poetry Month, maybe write a poem about your favorite wild animal, place to hike, or first signs of Spring? Remember, poems don’t have to be long. You can limit yourself to twenty words or less. And, if you would like to, feel free to share your poem in the comments for National Poetry Month.

To get the ball rolling, I’ll start us off by posting my poem.


Spring has come!

Woodpeckers drum.

Rain brings puddles.

Earthworm huddles.

Robins arrived.

My tulips survived!

16 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at Arrowhawk – A Survival Story.

  1. Wow – I would never have guessed from that cover that the illustrator was Gabi Swiatkowska! I’ll have to peek inside to see more. Good luck with your rescue duck tale!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kids are so compassionate and love to rescue injured or wild animals. Sounds like you were one of them. The opening really does grab your attention and draws you into the story. Sounds like a beautiful nonfiction read for kids. I will look forward to reading your duck rescue story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that little girl that once was me is all grown and is still rescuing animals. I might add, not only in the wild but sometimes as neglected animals at the pet store. I’ll keep working on my story, and hope that some day, an agent or publisher will believe in it.


  3. When I started reading your story about the rescued mallard duck, I thought “She should write that as a PB,” so I’m so happy to hear that you are! It sounds like it has the makings of a very moving story.

    Arrowhawk sounds amazing, too! I placed it on hold at my library. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, Gabi, I worked on my duck rescue story as a picture book for over a year, and each time I sent it out to my critique group or to a professional editor, I received the same comment: This should be a chapter book. So, moving back to square one, I began again. This could take a while, but I’m thrilled to have greater freedom with the word count.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, Jilanne, thank you for your good luck wishes with my book. I’ll keep working on it chapter by chapter and hope when I’m finished I have a manuscript I’m proud of as well as a manuscript an agent will love, too. And yes, if you son enjoyed Frightful, he’s going to love reading Arrowhawk. It’s a picture book for an older audience.


  5. Arrowhawk sounds like a wonderful story with beautiful illustrations. I will look for it at the library. I do tend to suffer along with the wounded animal (not to mention the demise of the mouse), particularly in movies, which might make it a hard read. But I’ll give it a try. BTW, have you read Pax? I’m guessing you must have – it’s right up your alley. Thanks for the lovely review and, of course, your personal introduction.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi, Jill! Yes, this book comes with its emotional challenges, but it also delivers a triumphant ending.
    And strangely, I haven’t read Pax. I just searched for it on Amazon and read the surprisingly high number of pages they allowed. Needless to say, I was hooked and ordered it. Thank you for letting me know about it.

    Liked by 1 person

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