The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-04-13 
Review Score: 3 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings

" This book, one part story-line, one part information-line, is set in the middle ages. The story part is written in verse, with an accompanying explanation of different aspects of falconry. The pictures are lovely, although occasionally I wished for a closer view of something, such as the hawk's hood. All in all, a solid offering about this sport. " said.

"Fantastically interesting book, since I knew next to nothing about the ancient sport of falconry. The narrative about a falconer and his daughter living in a medieval castle is told in verse, and every page also has a section of prose that details information about the subject of the page, defining vocabulary and explaining aspects of the hunt. Who knew that hawks wear little hoods? The book made me wonder where falconry clubs exist today, in the US or elsewhere, and what kinds of people participate. The illustrations are beautiful as well!" said.

" Excellent layout of fiction / nonfiction rolled into one book. Learn about the nature of the hawk and the sport of falconry, which is hunting with a falcon, hawk, or other similar bird of prey. This sport dates back to medieval times. Each page spread of this book is a beautiful painting with rich details of castles, countryside, and life in the Middle Ages. Take a journey back in time, as you read this book, and enjoy life within a medieval castle and the land surrounding the kingdom. " said.

"The illustrations of Hawk of the Castle painted in acrylic gouache are outstanding, a perfect match for this lyrical story of a father sharing his trade as a falconer with his daughter in medieval times. There is a lot of information given about the type of birds of prey used, the necessary setting, tools needed so the hawk will capture and deliver its prey, and the joy of the hunt. Told through the span of a day of hunting, all of the important information is included, even the house called a mews, where the owner's lucky hawk safely lives. This would be a great title to add to a collection focusing on medieval literature. The illustrations and text are so eloquent, young readers will experience the thrill of the hunt. The bibliography and Author's Note supply ample information for research" said.

"Picture book. An unusual, gentle book written partly in verse with explanations of such things as gauntlet, hawk’s hood, and feeding practices in italics on facing pages of most double page spreads. The Ibatoulline illustrations are realistic masterpieces that bring the medieval world to life. The story itself is written in the first person and features a young girl who lives in the castle and learns the sport of falconry from her father. The hound that accompanies them is also featured. An example of the rhyme:

This is the hound that we like to take
to a wide-open field that’s down by the lake.
She is carefully trained to help us to hunt
for game with our hawk of the castle.

Though this is a short (36 or 42-page) picture book, there is also back matter: a 2-page author’s note, further readings and website page, and an index.
" said.

"Ordinarily, I check out 6-7 illustrated children's books at one time. These are often a set of titles suggested in the New York Times book section. The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry, by Danna Smith, with illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline was the last title of a group that I examined. I just wasn't enthused about the subject. To my surprise, however, I found this book to be not merely fascinating, but cleverly devised, and gorgeously illustrated.
The writing is in two parts - straightforward prose that describes an array of terms and aspects of falconry, and lovely verse that tells of castle residents - a young girl and her father - whose goshawk is taken out for training. It is their story that is so beautifully depicted in Ibatoulline's wonderful drawings.
I think readers, both young and older, will be delightfully surprised with their experience reading this book. I imagine it could even spur a greater interest in falconry, or possibly medieval life.
" said.

"This well-written, informative book provides a thorough introduction to medieval falconry. The narrator, a young girl, is the daughter of the castle’s falconer. She takes readers on a tour of their rooms in the castle, explains the process of hunting with the hawk, and provides details about its training. Each double page spread contains a lyrical stanza that ends with the words, “the castle.” For instance, “This is the sky that’s filled with the sound / that’s made by our hawk and heard from the ground. / He opens his beak and calls to the wind. / It is music to us at the castle.” A text box on each page provides a paragraph of information in prose. The illustrations are gorgeously detailed acrylic gouache paintings of scenes within the castle, hunting in the fields, and the hawk’s eye view as it dives toward prey. An author’s note reveals how she knows her subject so well - her father was also a falconer. She also provides a brief history of falconry from ancient times in China to modern day and a list of further book and internet resources. " said.

"Journey back to medieval times in this nonfiction picture book about the skill of falconry. Told through the point of view of a young girl living in the castle, the text of the book is done in simple verse that hearkens back to traditional tales. Inset in each double-page spread is detailed information on falconry that shows the various parts of owning and caring for a hunting raptor. The book goes through all of the gear that is needed to own a falcon or hawk and then shows the hawk hunting for prey.

Smith has created a gorgeous two-layered book where her light hand with the verse and its traditional format clearly anchors the story in medieval times. That plays against the information shared about falconry which is clear and matter-of-fact. The text makes sure that readers never mistake the hawk for a traditional pet and never misunderstand that the hawk has emotions about their owner.

Ibatoulline’s illustrations are gorgeous. Bordered in a traditional black-and-white hawk theme, they have a lovely formality about them that suits the subject well. The paintings offer a feel of the majesty of the hawk. As the bird takes to the air so do the illustrations allowing a feel of freedom and joy.

This book truly soars, offering information for those wanting to know about falconry and a lovely poetic view as well. Appropriate for ages 6-8.
" said.

June 2018 New Book:

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