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My father, Dale Kessimakis, is the inspiration for The Hawk of the Castle.
Art © Bagram Ibatoulline
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
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.
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.
The Wall Street Journal
Mr. Ibatoulline’s fine, realistic pictures of castle, landscape and soaring predator have a wonderful feeling of sweep and drama. In small panels, Ms. Smith supplements her poetry with falconry facts and historical context.
Acclaimed artist Bagram Ibatoulline takes us back to medieval times with his glorious, detailed paintings in this fascinating story about falconry, as told by the young daughter of the falconer at a castle.
New York Times
May 10, 2017
“Ibatoulline invites you into his sweeping, realistic scenes with cleverly shifting perspectives. But perhaps most thrilling is a book with a castle featuring a girl who’s curious and accomplished, with her social status and marital prospects blissfully beside the point.”
A Junior Library Guild selection
Children's Book Author