The Hawk of the Castle, written by Danna Smith and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

The Hawk of the Castle

Written by Danna Smith

Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline



The story’s narrator, the young daughter of a medieval falconer, shares the process of how her father trains a young hawk. During the Middle Ages, many people hunted with birds of prey known as raptors, most often a falcon or a hawk. With their keen eyesight and sharp beaks and claws, raptors were excellent hunters. The daughter explains about the functions of the varied aspects of falconry: from the falconer’s protective gauntlet glove and the hawk’s leather hood, to the purpose of the bells on the hawk’s legs as well as the need for the partnership of a well-trained hound. In the detailed author’s note, readers will learn that in some places, there was a hierarchy of prestige involved with the sport, for example, emperors would own eagles or vultures, the largest of the raptors while kings owned Gyrfalcons, the largest of the falcons. Next in rank were the peregrines for princes and others of the lesser nobility. Women were not excluded: they owned merlin falcons while servants and children could own kestrels.


As a child Smith gained a keen interest in falconry from her father, a twenty-first century falconer. Her experiences add credence to her flawless poetic text. In addition to the verses, each page also contains an information box for further clarification. Coupled with Ibatoulline’s breathtaking illustrations this extraordinary book will spark new interest in the ancient sport of falconry and will make an important addition to any school, home or public library.

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