For a crane, Alexandra is quite the character: smart, intuitive, observant, brave, and charming. This delightful bird and unusual mentor teaches young readers that Israel is a paradise to migrating birds of many types. Over 500 million birds fly over the country twice a year, landing in the Hula Valley to rest and prepare for flight to their summer and winter homes. The way is long; the dangers are real. Staying together and flying in formation makes these arduous journeys possible, and Alexandra makes learning about them fun and memorable.
Ima and Abba Crane worry about Alexandra, who loves to wander and explore. As she does, she learns about air currents, weather, friends, and foes. She internalizes important lessons about observation, direction, and community.
On a pre-migration flight, Saba Crane notices Alexandra’s maturity and ability as she leads him away from a predatory eagle; then, when they get lost, she finds the way back. Alexandra clearly loves to lead, and finally gets her chance to head the crane “vee” on a journey above the Middle East. The birds land in Israel and savor many of its best destinations. Finally settled in the Hula Valley, the cranes don’t know where Alexandra has gone. They eventually discover her dancing for crane chicks, validating her personality as a creative leader.
Realistic drawings support the warm dialogue, descriptive text, and scientific information.
Ellen G. Cole, a retired librarian of the Levine Library of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, is a past judge of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards and a past chairperson of that committee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excellence in Jewish Children’s Literature. Ellen is the recipient of two major awards for contribution to Judaic Librarianship, the Fanny Goldstein Merit Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroeder Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California. She is on the board of AJLSC.