Saturday, November 14, 2009

Book Review #27: PALE MALE: Citizen Hawk of New York City by Janet Schulman; illustrated by Meilo So

illustrated by Meilo So

Pub. Date: March 2008
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Format: Hardcover, 40pp
Sales Rank: 20,592
Age Range: 6 to 12
ISBN-13: 9780375845581
ISBN: 0375845585

Description (from the publisher):
The birdwatchers of Central Park were buzzing–a young red-tailed hawk had been spotted, would he stay? The bird they dubbed Pale Male not only stayed, he became one of New York City’s most famous residents. Pale Male and his mate built their nest near the top of one of Fifth Avenue’s swankiest apartment buildings. Nine years and 23 chicks later, Pale Male’s fame had grown so large that a CBS newsman named him Father of the Year! But Pale Male was less beloved by the residents of the building, and in 2004 the owners suddenly removed the nest–setting off an international outcry on behalf of the birds.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

My Thoughts:
We loved this book! PALE MALE: CITIZEN HAWK OF NEW YORK CITY tells the true story of how both a creature of the wild and so-called civilized humans adapted and came to live peaceably among each other. It's a wonderfully entertaining and informative picture book for older kids.

Red-tailed hawks are notoriously shy animals, so when one took up residence on the roof-top of a ritzy Fifth Avenue apartment building, most New Yorkers were thrilled and excited. They named him Pale Male and often gathered by Central Park to watch him build his nest and hunt for food. The apartment dwellers, however, were not so thrilled. As Pale Male found a mate and started a family, the fall-out was rather offensive -- literally! The human residents complained of bird droppings and the remains of dead animals from the hawks' feedings falling from above and littering the sidewalk in front of their building. They began a campaign to oust the family of hawks from their rooftop. By this time, Pale Male was becoming quite popular and also rather famous. He and his family had a lot of supporters, and they fought every effort to evict the hawks from their home.

Much of this book is the story of how, after many years of battling the hawks, their fans, the Audubon Society, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the human residents of 927 Fifth Avenue eventually gave up their fight and accepted that the feathered family would be staying in the neighborhood.  We also learn quite a bit about the habits of red-tailed hawks and why settling down in New York City is both extraordinary and logical. An Author's Note  gives a little more detail about the background of the story as well as further developments which an adult can use to aid in a discussion with children about events in the book. A reference of selected sources for further study is also included.

The story of Pale Male would be fascinating if it were strictly text, but the accompany illustrations in this book are amazing. Beautiful watercolor paintings convey the grandeur of the hawks as well the gritty truths of New York City. The details of Meilo So's illustrations reveal the wide variety of people who came to love and appreciate the hawks as well as somewhat humorously demonstrating the very real aggravations and frustrations of the human residents of the building.                    

As I said at the beginning, we loved this book! It's entertaining and informative, colorful and fun. Highly recomended!

Click here to visit a site dedicated to Pale Male.

  About the Author and Illustrator (from the publisher):
Janet Schulman is a renowned editor and publisher of children’s books. She lives in New York City.

Meilo So has illustrated many acclaimed and award-winning books. She lives in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. Click here to visit her website.

My review copy of this book was borrowed from the Portsmouth Free Public Library.


bermudaonion said...

This sounds great! The fact that it's true is an added bonus.

Maria said...

Sounds Great! I love the cover!:)

Marie said...

Sounds like a terrific book! :-)

Jeane said...

How cool- this very same hawk was mentioned in a book about pigeons I just finished reading. Only in passing, but I'd love to read Pale Male's full story! This one's going on my TBR!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I remember following this story in the New York Times but I didn't realize there was a book out about it. Thanks for sharing the review!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I read this story (in the news and mags)as it developed. This non-fiction picture book will fit nicely on our family bookshelves; I'll alert Santa's elves ...

Zibilee said...

This story is fascinating, and it's great that they were able to capture it in the book. I liked your review very much!