A review from a Primary School Reading Leader
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Lesley McFarlane is a mum to three grown up children and very proud grandmother to two grandsons. She has worked in primary schools for around twenty-five years, and her biggest passion has always been to help children along the road to becoming a reader! If you want to hear more from Lesley follow her own twitter. Read her fab review of Chalk Eagle:
A boy sits on the window of a sparse room. He seems content with his cat, he smiles as an eagle soars past. The front cover has set the
scene as a city, so to see this symbol of expanse, nature and freedom lifts the spirit! We move forward to the boy joyously running in what looks like the garden, arms outstretched, in the shadow of the majestic shadow of the eagle. Then he lays on the lawn, again arms outstretched as the eagle hovers above. There is a hint that the boy has no other children (or adults for that matter!) as friends around him. However, he doesn’t seem upset or resentful of this. He smiles a lot in these pictures. The boy and the cat climb up onto the roof. It feels as if he scurried up to the rooftop to get closer to the beautiful creature, that flew past his window and that provides a glimpse of life outside the boy’s reality. I love that the cat goes with him! The boy chalks a large eagle onto the rooftop which comes to life in his imagination. It spreads its magnificent wings and rises into the air.
I love the next part of the story. The boy realises he can’t go with the eagle. So, he sketches himself and the chalk eagle carries the chalk boy away. The next few images show the companions free and unfettered gliding over sea and among snow-capped mountains. This part of the book really needs to be seen, I’m not sure I can do it justice with my words.
As the sun sets over the boy’s house he climbs from the roof, leaving the chalked eagle in the shadows. Maybe to return to another day?
The colours used in this beautiful book are simple but fresh and clean. The illustrations are simply drawn with nothing unnecessary or wasted. The narrative of the story is simple too. For me, it is a story that is close to my heart and is the tale of many a child. It is the story of solitude and imagination and it’s ability to enable the soul to feel freedom whilst the body has to stay put. I love the way the book doesn’t portray the boy as lonely and miserable but instead as optimistic and outward-thinking despite his seemingly isolated circumstances.
I would use this book with all ages in our primary school. I would love to hear how the children interpret these beautiful pictures. Children never cease to amaze me and I would love to hear their take on this lovely and intriguing book.
I would use this book alongside some other fiction and non-fiction titles. I would use Chalk by Bill Thomson and possibly DeWalt’s The Day The Crayons Quit. These titles would help explore the element of drawings coming to life. I would also use Matt Sewell’s Big Bird Spot to spark ideas for birds we might see. Possibly Magnificent Birds by Walker Books too so, again the children can investigate birds that may be around them. Also, some of the new Atlas type non-fiction books so that the area where this book was written could be explored.
- Read Five reasons your school needs Chalk Eagle
- Check out a secondary school teacher’s review of this book
- Watch this stunning book trailer for Chalk Eagle
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