Monday, July 08, 2019

Like a Fish Out of Water! An Owl at Sea by Susan Vande Griek

... What is it doing
way out here,
far, far out
over open water
Wings rowing slowly,
beating long, eyes searching for field or fencepost.

However the owl came to be lost over the sea, it is not a seabird. It cannot hunt fish. And though its wings are strong, it cannot fly for days. Growing weaker, through the foggy air the owl's eyes catch sight of something that is not ever-changing gray waves, and it drops down rapidly, its talons grasping at last at something stable, a steel railing.
Grounded at last
but on an oil rig,
anchored miles offshshore.

The crew of the drilling rig are surprised at the sight of their bedraggled visitor, and putting on their big work gloves they carefully life the owl, marooned on a metal island of men, wrap him in a blanket, give him a box and a plate of meat to eat. The owl seems grateful for the succor, while the men ponder what else they can do to help him. The owl rests and his strength returns.

And in a few days, a different bird, big and noisy, lands on the rig. It's a tender helicopter, bringing supplies to the men on the rig and ready to return the owl to his own habitat. He is a passenger for his next flight, wrapped in a protective towel in the lap of a kind woman, met at the landing pad by a bird rescue team.
Released over grass field
over wide open space
the Short-eared Owl
is at home,
far, far from the sea....

It's home to his own habitat of field and forest, farms and stone walls, in Susan Vande Griek's account of the true story of a little short-eared owl, who lost his way over the North Sea and rescued by some kind riggers, in her recent An Owl at Sea (Groundwood Books, 2019). Narrated in gentle blank verse, this nature rescue story is told with quiet drama, with the point of view shifting between owl and the humans who help him. Artist Ian Wallace's soft illustrations done in gentle palette of natural watercolors that meld well with the lyric narration, and author Vande Griek provides an appended account of the news story upon which this book is based and a list of sources and books for further reading. Says School Library Journal, "A beautiful book that will be most appreciated in libraries where wildlife stories are popular."

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