26 May 2020

Lockdown Library #5


by Rick T.

26 May 2020

This week's Lockdown Library recommendation comes from Nina, (age 9) from Priorsford Primary, the school who adopted Emily (121) as their Eagle.

Nina recommends 'Skyhawk' by Gill Lewis.

'The book is set in Scotland in a landscape which is similar to where I live myself. I live in the Tweed valley, surrounded by hills and forestry, just like in the book.'

In the early chapters, I had pictured the story being told from a girl’s point of view. However it is written from the viewpoint of Callum, who is the main male character in the story. This made it a bit harder for me to put myself into the shoes of the main character!

Early on in the story, Callum spots a girl called Iona catching and stealing a fish from a loch on his farmland. Although this was a problem, Callum was pretty impressed that Iona could catch a fish with her bare hands! He was keen to find out how to do this too. However, as soon as Iona spotted Callum, she scrambled into the woods nearby. Callum followed Iona into the woods to check if she was ok. When he found her Iona said to Callum that if he let her onto their farmland, she would tell him a secret. Callum thought about it and then finally agreed to the deal. She told him the secret that they had an osprey nest on their land! Later Callum was to learn that an osprey nest is actually called an eyrie.

Callum and Iona got very close that summer and spent every day together. One day they found the female osprey caught in a fishing net and helped to free her. She had a deep cut on her ankle which they helped her to get treatment for. That same day, they decided to call her Iris.

At the end of the summer holidays Iona tragically died of the summer flu (maybe this was a bit like Covid 19?) This made me feel very sad and it felt like the story had lost one of the main characters a bit too early on.

The osprey migrates to Africa in the winter. We learn about Iris’s journey and how far she travels- over France, the mountains of Spain and then down into Africa.

They are able to follow Iris on the computer because she has an electronic tag. They lose track of her at one point because she is caught in a sandstorm. Then a few days later, when Iris is at a mangrove swamp, she does not move for a few days and Callum is really worried about her again.

Callum writes an email to lots of people in that area of Africa asking if they can help find Iris. None of them reply for a few days but one little girl (who is sort of like the new Iona) writes a reply from her hospital bed in Africa. She comes from a poor fishing village in the area, where the fishermen keep a special eye out for ospreys. They are a lucky charm and help the fisherman to catch lots of fish. They don’t find Iris straight away but they don’t give up and finally spot her. When they find her she is very sick and has an infection in the cut she got earlier in the story.

A doctor called Max helps Iris recover over the next few weeks. At the same time the little girl in hospital who responded to Callum, is also recovering from being hit by a car. Both of her legs are really badly broken and are not healing very well. The little girl is called Jeneba.

Jeneba is very ill but does her very best to stay in touch with Callum and his friends to let them know how Iris is doing. A few weeks’ later, Jeneba’s legs have still not healed properly and it looks like she may need to get them amputated. It is much better news for Iris though- she is now strong enough to make the journey home.

When Callum finds out that Jeneba’s legs may need to be amputated, he thinks that this is not fair for Jeneba and he decides to do something about it! Callum organises a fundraising event at his village hall and makes an amazing £1400.64. However, this is not enough because Jeneba is not British and will need to pay for the treatment on top of the flights.

The newspapers get hold of the story about Callum, Jeneba and Iris and want to find out more. This means that the secret may get out and Callum is really worried about Iris not being safe if people know where her eyrie is! There are news reporters everywhere and suddenly people start donating money for Jeneba. Soon they have over £10,000 and an offer of doing the treatment for free! All Callum needs to do, is to try and keep the location of the eyrie a secret. He gets some help from a man called Hamish, who works at a local nature reserve for birds of prey. He says that they can pretend that Iris lives there and that way she will be safe.

Callum and his dad are watching the news when they see that were Iris is flying, there is a massive storm and they are very worried that she might not make it. Iris is battling huge waves and gale force winds which could kill her by pulling her under the waves. They have to put Iris out of their mind because they should be celebrating that Jeneba’s operation was successful and she is on her way to the village to meet Callum. That night they all have a massive party in the village hall with dancing and karaoke for everyone. Callum and Jeneba are so delighted to finally meet each other. The next morning they woke up early to drive up the mountain to try and spot Iris. It was a very misty morning. After they had got to the top of the mountain Jeneba walked for the first time in months! It looked like she was walking on the clouds when Iris appeared out of nowhere, soaring into the blue skies above them…

Although I was happy how the book had ended, I was also very sad that I had got to the end of the story because I loved it so much.

I rate this book 10/10!