Stork’s Land­ing

Tami Lehman-Wilzig
  • Review
By – October 31, 2014

A true event inspired this sto­ry which begins more real­is­ti­cal­ly than it ends. Israel hosts the high­est num­ber of migrat­ing birds in the world; one of these is caught in a net protec­tively cov­er­ing the kib­butz fish pond. A lit­tle girl, Maya, and her father save the bird, a stork, whose bro­ken wing can­not be repaired. They can­not return the stork to the wild, but they cre­ate a life for it in a ground nest. In anoth­er migra­tion, a male stork sees the female on the ground; he waits for her to join him in the tree, but the bird can­not fly; she does not come. True to its bio­log­i­cal imper­a­tive, the male will not live on the ground. Short­ly, he finds anoth­er female, builds a nest, and cre­ates a fam­i­ly. Just as these babies are ready to fly, their moth­er dis­ap­pears. Maya’s father arranges for a famer and his buck­et loader to lift the injured stork up to the nest to raise the babies. Maya rides up and places the bird in the nest. 

Hap­py end­ing? A zoo ornithol­o­gist doubts a bird with one wing could man­age in a tree. Kib­butz life is unex­plained. The pic­ture book arcs from man com­pen­sat­ing for nature to man manip­u­lat­ing nature, the implau­si­bil­i­ty of the out­come detract­ing from a gen­uine­ly mov­ing tale. The fan­ta­sy solu­tion aims for a heart­warm­ing vignette. It rings false and it detracts from the won­der­ful open­ing acts of car­ing. It denies that real­i­ty can some­times be heart­warm­ing, which would give us hope as well as warm fuzzies. The illus­tra­tions are soft; they deliv­er action and emo­tions nice­ly. A role-mod­el eco­log­i­cal sto­ry for chil­dren morphs into a fairy tale with­out expla­na­tion. Move­ment from fact to fic­tion, although pleas­ant, dis­ap­points. For ages 3 – 6.

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.

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