Wild Wings

by Gill Lewis

Other authorsYuta Onoda (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2011

Call number



Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2011), 304 pages


Callum becomes friends with Iona, a practically feral classmate who has discovered an osprey, thought to be gone from Scotland, on Callum's family farm, and they eventually share the secret with others, including Jeneba who encounters the same bird at her home in Gambia.

Media reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Striving to protect the osprey nesting on his family’s farm in Scotland, 11-year-old Callum McGregor watches the bird throughout summer, uses a computer to follow her migration to Africa and sets in motion a remarkable chain of events. This rich, moving tale begins with a shared secret: It was
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classmate Fiona McNair who found the nest. When the bird is snagged in fishing line high in her pine, the circle expands to include Callum’s sheep-farming family and a ranger from a nearby preserve. When she migrates, Callum and friends Rob and Euan track her through the transmitter she carries on her back. When her signal disappears in a Gambian mangrove forest, 10-year-old Jeneba, hospitalized with broken legs, mobilizes the fishermen of her village and a visiting American doctor to rescue and rehabilitate her. Eventually—and entirely naturally—the bird’s story reaches around the world. The suspenseful story line is surrounded with precise details: the Scottish landscape, osprey behavior, the work of a sheepdog and the joy and pain of riding a trail bike. Short chapters, some with cliffhanging endings, will read aloud well. Callum’s first-person narrative is occasionally paralleled by the osprey’s own experience, as Callum imagines it. With universal themes of life and death, friendship and respect for the natural world, this is still quite particular, a powerfully memorable story of a boy’s grief and determination to keep a promise.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member ref27
Beautiful landscapes, engaging characters, surprising storyline. Heartfelt but not sentimental treatment of multiple world issues.
LibraryThing member mossing
Callum and Iona discover endangered ospreys on his family's farmland in Scotland and strive to keep the birds a secret for fear of poachers. Callum becomes estranged from his former friends because of his budding friendship with Iona, and the two of them form a unified, but lonely, front because of
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their secret. The story moves along in chronological order, bringing in currently relevant issues like protected species, poaching, and geography. The characters are well developed, young and old, and the story will provoke children's curiosity about the world around them. Callum's quest to protect the osprey takes him through personal turmoil and results in some unlikely friendships. Full-page illustrations are interspersed throughout the book, mainly focusing on the osprey's migratory journey. I think that this book would be a good addition to any library. Suitable for ages 9-12.
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LibraryThing member Sullywriter
Wonderfully crafted story. An impressive debut.
LibraryThing member JenJ.
Booktalk: Callum and his friends catch Iona, granddaughter of the town drunk and daughter of a reviled thief, fishing on Callum’s farm. After they chase her off, Callum figures that’s that, but Iona has a secret. A secret that’s about Callum’s farm and that she promises she’ll share with
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Callum, if he’ll only stop chasing her off. Callum can’t resist the temptation and makes the bargain and he’s awestruck when Iona shows him the nest. A pair of ospreys, one of the rarest and most endangered birds in Scotland, has chosen Callum’s farm as their summer nesting grounds. Soon Callum’s spending less and less time with his friends and more and more time with Iona watching the birds and keeping them safe. They even work with a local gamekeeper to learn how to track the birds when they’ll have to migrate to Africa for the winter. Callum’s old friends may give him a hard time, but otherwise everything is going well for Callum, Iona and the birds until tragedy strikes. Now Callum will learn what his friends and family are really made of. Filled with fascinating details about ospreys, Wild Wings will have you soaring with hope and dipping with fear and grief right along with Callum.

I was disappointed Iona died and found the ending to be somewhat unrealistically happy, but I did like the interludes from the osprey's point of view and would have welcomed even more of those. The relationships among the boys seemed appropriately thorny. Overall, I enjoyed this, but it's not destined to be one of my favorites.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
Set in Scotland, this is a story of a young boy who befriends a lonely girl who lives in poverty with her grandfather. Because she doesn't fit in, she is bullied and made fun of. Her fickle classmates have no idea of how intelligent, kind and sensitive she is. When she shows Cullum her secret, he
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and she become friends. Discovering an Osprey nest, they watch as Iona describes the habits of this endangered species.

Fascinatingly told, the author excellently weaves the tale of friendship, discovery and the impact their discovery has when they share their secret with a local naturalist who captures the bird when she is harmed by a wire entangled around her leg. While saving the rare bird, he places a tracer on the osprey.

Tracing the Osprey as it leaves Scotland to travel to Africa, Cullum worries when there is no signal. Soliciting the assistance of those in Gambia, an unlikely internet relationship develops which changes many.

Dealing with many issues, this is a wonderfully written book of nature, friendship and the power of bonding through discovery.
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LibraryThing member Stahl-Ricco
My 9 1/2 year old daughter recommended that I read this, and I'm glad that she did! First off, it's just cool to see what she's into! Secondly, it's a pretty darn good lil' book! A touching story about a young Scottish boy named Callum, an osprey named Iris, and two special girls in both of their
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lives, Iona and Jeneba! I enjoyed the details about the osprey, life in Scotland, and life in The Gambia, and I liked the positive messages about family, the environment, and endangered species. I'd highly recommend this for a young reader looking for a good story!
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LibraryThing member bookwren
"Callum becomes friends with Iona, a practically feral classmate who has discovered an osprey, thought to be gone from Scotland, on Callum's family farm, and they eventually share the secret with others, including Jeneba who encounters the same bird at her home in Gambia." Friendship is a strong
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theme is this place-based story: friendship between people and between people, birds, and the land. Well-researched and atmospheric, Wild Wings will transport you to the hills of Scotland and the wetlands of Africa and make you fall in love with Callum, Iona, Jeneba and the ospreys they cherish.
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LibraryThing member fingerpost
Set in Scotland, this easy read tells the story of Callum, the young son of a sheep farmer, who befriends a girl (Ilona) obsessed with wildlife. When they find an osprey nesting pair - extremely rare in Scotland- they decide to keep it secret to protect the birds... and I can't tell more without
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spoilers, so stop here if you don't want them.
Ilona is presented a bit oddly. Hints of a back story about her are given, but never clarified though the entire book. About halfway through the tale, with no foreshadowing, and no warning, Ilona gets sick and promptly dies. This is the great weakness of this otherwise decent YA novel. Ilona's back story is never told, though it's made clear there is one, and then she dies and vanishes. After her funeral, she is rarely even mentioned again. We know she is on Callum's mind, but he is far more focused on the osprey (Iris) than on his deceased friend.
Ilona's death is balanced somewhat by the introduction of another sick young girl (Jeneba) who lives in The Gambia, where Iris winters. Callum and his friends meet her by email as they try to find Iris through a wildlife tracking program. Jeneba has been hit by a truck and both of her legs have been shattered. The hospitals in The Gambia don't have the expertise or equipment to give her the help she needs. She will never walk again, and may die... but Callum and his pals set out to save her, and of course do so successfully.
I could give this a much higher rating had Ilona's character been handled better, but I was left wondering what happened in her life before we met her, and then felt like she was more or less abandoned after her death by both the other characters and the author.
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LibraryThing member MrsBond
Slow moving, not really invested in the characters or story. And, not sure I understand who this book is for, weird mix of 2nd grade interest with 7th grade topics. Includes: additional resources and reading, invitation to connect with author as she participates in tagging osprey to monitor during
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Great Stone Face Book Award (Nominee — 2013)
Black-Eyed Susan Book Award (Nominee — Grades 4-6 — 2013)
Green Earth Book Award (Winner — Children's Fiction — 2012)
Idaho Battle of the Books (Elementary — 2019)




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