Wings. Loizeaux,William; ill. Bowman, Leslie; Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., 2006.
Grade Level: 3-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-374-34802-1 (hardcover $16.00)
Blanket Permission to Reproduce Book Jackets:
Preferred wording: “Used by permission of the publisher.”
Synopsis: In the summer of 1960, a fatherless, ten year old boy named Nick rescues a baby mocking bird. He and his friend, Mate, nurture the bird to health and develop a special bond with the bird which they name Marcy. That summer takes on a magical quality which changes and expands as the bird and the lives of those who are involved in its care develop relationships. The story is full of the joy and wonder of Marcy and her physical feats and loyalty but the reality of change and independence is present also.
William Loizeaux writes a story which deals with the deep feelings of loss because of the death of a father and husband and other major changes in relationships, all of which could be devastating. However, his characters from Nick who is struggling with the death of his father, to his mother who is sad but steady, to the bird which is a wonder, to his mother’s boyfriend who is an interruption, and to his friends who pull him different directions, the author leads the reader in an upbeat, positive direction. There are real dilemmas presented in the book and they are dealt with in a positive, realistic way.
Themes: Loss; Friends; Family Relationships; Human-Animal Relationships
Author Information: William Loizeaux teaches at John Hopkins University where he has received awards for teaching excellence and professional achievement. Wings received the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Award and was the Golden Kite Award Honor book for Fiction. He lives with his wife and daughter in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Discussion Questions: (Standard 3; Benchmark 3)
- The abstract idea of achieving independence in life is a main part of the book, Wings. Discuss how different characters in the book were struggling to gain independence from someone or something to make changes in their lives. Define the attributes of being independent and then decide upon a definition of it.
- It is a common childhood experience to find a baby bird or small wild animal and to try and make it a pet. Share your personal experiences doing this. Discuss the risks, the responsibilities and the rewards that Nick faced in raising Marcy as a pet.
- A dilemma is a situation when you are forced to make a choice or decision and anything you decide has possible bad results. One example from Wings is at the beginning of the book when Nick has to decide whether or not to help the bird he sees in the middle of the road. Another is when he has to choose whether to go over to Derek’s house to swim or stay with his friend Mate. When he has to decide what he will do about Marcy when he is gone for a week on vacation is a serious dilemma for him. Discuss the choices he faces in each dilemma and what the possible results for each might be. What did he choose to do in each situation? Explain why you agree or disagree with his decisions.
- Plan to have a person from a local nature center speak to the children about the risks and care that are involved in trying to raise a wild bird from infancy. (Standard 7, Benchmark 1)
- Write a report about raising birds and particularly wild birds using book research, the internet or visiting a nature center. (Standard 1, Benchmark 5 Standard 3, Benchmark 2)
- The illustrations in the book are all in black and white. Choose one or more and draw it adding color. Include the page number where the illustration is found in the book and write a caption for it. (Standard 5, Benchmark 3)
- Research the mockingbird on the internet and find a color picture of one. Print the picture and using the internet and the information at the end of the book give an oral report to your class. (Standard 5, Benchmark 3)
Similar Books for Further Reading:
- Is My Dog a Wolf by Jenni Bidner
- Buddy Unchained by Daisy Bix
- Rascal by Sterling North
- Coyote Autumn by Bill Wallace