Hawk Rising – PPBF, Giveaway and Q & A with Maria Gianferrari

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Title: Hawk Rising

Author: Maria Gianferrari

Illustrator: Brian Floca

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, 2018, June 5th

Ages: 3-7

Themes: hawks, raptors, red-tailed hawks, predators

Genre: Narrative non-fiction


Father Hawk stretches wide his wings.

You stretch your arms
as Mars rises red
in the sky.


Hawk Rising is a narrative non-fiction picture book about a girl and her mom observing with binoculars, a red-tailed father hawk hunting prey for his family at night. His targets include a chipmunk, sparrows and a squirrel, all visible from this suburban backyard. The chase is tense and the ending a suspenseful victory for this raptor family.

Why I like this book:

In a sparse poetic text, Maria Gianferrari creates the changing moods and actions of both the human and the feathered families. It is wonderful to have a book that includes the POV of the predator and his evolutionary impulses to provide for his family. The story is dramatic as some prey escape, but not all! Floaca’s earth-toned illustrations parallel and expand the feelings of observers and hunter, with rising tension. The mother and daughter expressions capture that tenuous balance of awe for the raptor and his family and compassion for the prey–a healthy human response to the population cycle.

I especially love the suburban setting and hope it will encourage families to be on the lookout for wildlife wherever they live. This is a beautiful addition to your nonfiction nature-shelves.


Maria is Kindly doing a giveaway for US residents of a copy of Hawk Rising. To enter, please leave a comment of your favorite wildlife encounter.


  • The book contains back matter with more information about how hawks hunt, nest, and raise families, as well as further sources.
  • Growls is a terrific website about teaching young children about wildlife. 
  • National geographic Kids has more information on these hawks and other bird hunters. 
  • This is a great companion to Maria Gianferrari’s Coyote Moon,

I also did a quick Q & A with Maria.

[JM] What is your favorite spread from Hawk Rising?

[MG] It’s difficult to select only one—Brian Floca’s art is phenomenal, but I really love this opening spread in the book, when the father, mother and hawk chicks are all in the nest together:

[JM] How did you go about your research for the book?

[MG] I began the traditional way: I read a lot of books on raptors, and hawks in particular, both for adults and children, as well as guide books and I also watched DVDs such as Looking Skyward: A Passion for Hawk Watching by Fred Bouchard.

I also did a bit of field research, observing and photographing hawks, such as this mating pair, when I was living in Massachusetts.

One of my favorite ways to research hawks, and other birds, is via webcam. Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds is my favorite website and the best way to research birds: you can observe them nesting, laying eggs, the eggs hatching and the hatchlings growing into fledglings.

I spent many hours watching Big Red, and her late mate, Ezra, to whom the book is dedicated, raise their hawk chicks. Ezra was injured last March, and had to be euthanized—it was very tragic and sad, but together they raised 15 chicks, so their legacy lives on. Big Red now has a new mate, Arthur, and they’re raising three chicks together.

Here’s a photo of Big Red and her latest clutch of chicks shortly after they hatched:

credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

You can watch them live here! It’s very exciting!!

[JM] This is a companion to the wonderful Coyote Moon, do you have any more planned in this series?

[MG] Yes! In fact, I am delighted to be collaborating once again with Coyote Moon illustrator, Bagram Ibatoulline and editor Emily Feinberg at Roaring Brook Press on A Home for Bobcat. And I would love to do more!

[JM] I know you have also just released Terrific Tongues, but what are you working on right now?

[MG] I recently finished another fiction picture book manuscript on—you guessed it—dogs! I’m also in the process of doing research for another expository nonfiction project.

[JM] Please recommend your favorite restaurant/coffee shop in your local town for when I visit!

[MG] Our neighborhood Vietnamese place, Viet Chopsticks, has delectable dishes! My two favorites are Vegetarian Pho noodle soup with tofu and Clay pot rice with tofu—yum!

Thank you for featuring Hawk Rising on your blog, Joanna!  

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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16 Responses to Hawk Rising – PPBF, Giveaway and Q & A with Maria Gianferrari

  1. I have an enormous soft spot for animal stories. Hawk Rising has been placed at the top of my library list. I have many animal encounter memories from my childhood, but one of my favorites was the time our cat cornered two mice near our front door. I wasn’t sure how to save them from the jaws of doom, but my mom casually and quickly bent down, snatched the quivering furballs up by their tails and brought them inside where we kept them as pets in a terrarium for about a month to observe and enjoy before she released them back to the wild.

  2. Joanna says:

    I love this story, Leslie, and I am so glad for your mom’s presence of mind.

  3. What a cool book. The illustrations look fabulous and I loved your review. I’m wondering when my library will have it in. Soon I hope. Thanks for sharing Joanna.

  4. Patricia Nozell says:

    What a pair collaborating on this one! It must be fabulous! and I love your suggestion, Joanna, to pair it with Chalk Eagle in the classroom.

  5. Andrea Oriend says:

    Hawk Rising grabbed my attention easily with its vivid descriptions and precise action on every page! I haven’t read Coyote Moon, but I know what I’m requesting from the library now! Wildlife encounters are exciting, and I must say my favorite moments of late include monarch butterflies. I hope they count as wildlife! I found my first monarch eggs last summer, and I was able to raise and release 25 healthy butterflies!

    • I love Monarchs!! Have you read The Monarchs are Missing by Rebecca E. Hirsch? It’s a great read and I think you’ll enjoy it if you haven’t yet read it, Andrea. I hope you will like Coyote Moon too! It’s based on my encounter with an eastern coyote when I lived in Massachusetts :).

  6. Joanna says:

    Andrea, absolutely butterflies count! And what a great environmentalist you are rearing all those Monarchs. Yay!

  7. What a beautiful cover. It makes me want to read the story. I love the story line for this nonfiction, as will children. Lovely review!

  8. Ali says:

    I am fortunate to have grown up in a place where we had many types of wildlife in and out of our backyard. I spent my summers catching frogs, listening to birds, seeing deer eat the fallen apples from our trees. However I think my favorite experience was watching a mother fox and her babies, who had moved in under our shed. It was so fascinating to watch them play and grow.

  9. I was similarly lucky, Ali having grown up down the street from a farm with hills, cornfields, a maple sugar house, pond and lots of trees to climb 🙂

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