Gentle verse and sweeping, majestic artwork set imaginations soaring in a handsome and illuminating ode to the ancient art of falconry.

Join a young girl and her father, the falconer at a medieval castle, as they experience the joys of taking a goshawk out for a training flight. The girl leads readers through all the preparations and equipment needed for the flight — from the hawk’s hood and bells to the falconer’s glove — culminating in a dramatic demonstration of the hawk’s hunting skill. Bagram Ibatoulline’s masterful illustrations capture the vivid details and beauty of a day spent hawking, while Danna Smith’s poetic storytelling will make readers long to experience the art and sport of falconry firsthand.


The fictional narrative gives the book structure, while the details of falconry add interest and purpose. In the author’s note, Smith tells of learning “the ancient sport” from her father, a falconer. A beautifully designed and illustrated volume.
Kirkus Reviews
A trained hawk serves as fierce centerpiece to broad, sweeping views of castle and countryside in this rhapsodic tribute to the craft of falconry...An idyllic picture of an ancient practice.
*Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Ibatoulline’s (The Matchbox Diary) stunningly realistic acrylic and gouache scenes illustrate from all angles, offering close-ups of the hawk, pastoral panoramas, and breathtaking aerial vistas...What young readers may appreciate most, though, is the story, beautifully presented, of the bonding between a daughter and father.
*School Library Journal (starred review)
Ibatoulline’s stunning illustrations depict the father/daughter pair hunting and learning together in a landscape of brilliant color and detail...An imaginative and unique title to introduce elementary schoolers to hawks and falconry in a medieval setting—an ideal read-aloud selection, too.
School Library Connection
The author presents the story in lyrical form and includes information boxes on each page, which goes into more detail about each subject...I would recommend this book for children in fifth grade, but it would be a nice read aloud for fourth graders. This book belongs in all libraries.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Ibatoulline’s lush, painterly spreads work in harmony with the text, tantalizing viewers with visual details of the garb and accouterments (both bird’s and falconer’s) of the sport, and immediately supplying answers as quickly as a listener can formulate a question.

Awards and Distinctions

A Junior Library Guild selection

The Hawk of the castle

Forthcoming Books

The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry  

Candlewick Press  April 11, 2017

Springtime Babies

Little Golden Books   January 9, 2018

The Colors of Winter
Little Golden Books  May  2018

Rocket-Bye Baby
Little Golden Books January 9, 2019

The Colors of Summer

Little Golden Books  May 2019

Wake Up, Freight Train! 

Little Golden Books  Summer 2019

Buy the book

Art © Bagram Ibatoulline

Children's Book Author

danna smith.

The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry 

by Danna Smith

illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

published by Candlewick Press

Informational Picture Book

Ages 4 and up

ISBN-10: 0763679925
ISBN-13: 978-0763679927

My father, Dale Kessimakis, is the inspiration for The Hawk of the Castle.