Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Long, Long Journey

The Long, Long Journey
The Godwit's Amazing Migration
by Sandra Markle
illustrated by Mia Posada

The Bar-tailed Godwits are wading birds that flock at the mudflats in Alaska to give birth to the next generation.

The story opens with a little female bar-tailed godwit hatching and taking her first wobbly steps at midnight. Except, it is midnight in Alaska in June, which means there is still daylight.

She joins her three older siblings and starts hunting for spiders, crane fly larvae, and beetles. Her two sisters and brother huddle closer to keep warm; her mother and father take turns to keep all the chicks cozy and comfortable.

She eats and eats to gain enough weight to make the impending journey. Her wings are not strong enough yet but she will flap and hop in between feeding, testing out if she is ready to fly.

One day, she will flap hard and hop high and take off.

Bar-tailed godwits hold the record for the longest non-stop flight from Alaska to New Zealand. And also, the longest flight without pausing to feed.

The charming tale informs us about the godwits in a child friendly narration, with a female chick as the protagonist who must make the migration for the first time without her parents. While the chicks get sterling care from their parents when young, they are left to their own devices at the critical time of making the first long distance flight. And yet, they somehow do it. Generation after generation.

The illustrations by Mia Posada are simply stunning! Each double page spread captures the beauty of the narration, adding the perfect charming touches that make it special. Like, the soft fluffiness of the chicks in contrast to the crisp definition of the parents; the tenuous and awkward hop-flap vs. the confident take off of the female chick for the first time; the diligent poke into the marshy ground to find tunneling worms and tiny clams; and the most impressive, which also happens to be the cover image, is the spread where the "young female flies through unfamiliar skies and over unknown seas."

There are many wonderful pictures books on migrating animals and I wish I could share them all here... However, I'll just mention one poetry book about animal migration by Marianne Berkes, a brilliant educator who has given us numerous cleverly crafted non-fiction books that teachers have come to rely on:
Going Home:The Mystery of Animal Migration (illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio)

[ST's review of Going Home]

[Preview Going Home at Dawn - click on cover image]

[image source: Provo City Library]


sathish said...

Hi Sheela,

This book review and the earlier books on North and 'Going home' gel very well together.

Lovely selection by you, MM and Chox.

sandhya said...

Lovely review, Sheela! Brought to my mind these lines - 'birdie, rest little longer - till the little wings are stronger' , by Tennyson.

ranjani.sathish said...

What a fantastic pick Sheela...I am sure books like these will be enlightening not only for the kids, but even for me !

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