5.25.2011

Feathered City: The Tale of Pale Male

The Tale of Pale Male: A True StoryAll of the picture books about Pale Male take a different approach. Of the three I am reviewing, Jeanette Winter's The Tale of Pale Male is the only one to begin with life for the Red-tailed hawk outside the city, pointing out that the hawks live in tall places such as trees, cliffs, or even cacti. She explains how the bird likes the high perch in order to spy tiny mice, but she then jumps a little too quickly to New York City's skyscrapers. After this somewhat awkward beginning, Winter successfully maneuvers her way through dual storyline -- on the one hand, the hawks' life in the city, and on the other hand, the reaction to the nest by New York's human residents.

Winter's depiction of the city is focused almost entirely on the height at which the birds live. We rarely see the street and in a few images, she uses a split-screen to represent the birdwatchers far below the buildings, emphasizing the height of the nest. I also found it interesting that she gave curtains only to the windows in the apartments directly below the nest,  drawing attention to the contrast between the human's high nest and the birds'. I  liked Winter's illustrations, even though the overriding colors are purples, pinks and aquas, but I found it odd that, until the final pages, the hawks always seemed to be wearing rather angry expressions.

Winter's text clips along and works nicely when read aloud.

Want More?
Visit Pale Male's website.
Watch a short clip from PBS' Nature episode in which the famous hawk mates on Woody Allen's balcony.
Read a short article about the author.

Big Kid says: It keeps talking about the mice!

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