“Sweet & fun to read”
This book conveys great values that children can take with them after reading it. The illustrations are unique and capture the reader’s imagination so well. It helps teach children to overcome their fears. – Amanda
Fantastic book! It kept my daughter interested and engaged and provided a fun and effective way to teach her about overcoming problems and fears. I am recommending this book to family and friends. – Micah
grandparents and grandchildren alike!”
Wonderful story. I loved it and my grandson loved it. We are both looking forward to the next installment and continued tales of Oscar. – Michael
“Oscar the Osprey – The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights“
Oscar the Osprey follows a year in the life of a newly hatched osprey. This wonderful children’s book takes readers through a full year of life following a young bird named Oscar, with each chapter taking up a season. Oscar is different, and other birds make fun of him for it, but he learns to adapt to his impairment and survives the winter in his own unique way.
This is a wonderfully educational book that will teach young readers many things about ospreys. This is an inspiring coming of age tale that I really enjoyed because Oscar was left to overcome his inequities on his own. This conveys a fantastic lesson on self-reliance that is not often taught in children’s books. Readers will learn many things about birds, and all the educational elements are delivered within a heartfelt story that follows Oscar’s journey. Readers will immediately connect with Oscar, not only because he’s the underdog, but because of his amazing outlook on life and his amiable personality. The illustrations were all black and white sketch art that was very fitting for the story and simply charming.
Author Edward Martin Polansky has written a children’s book that reminds me of classic children’s literature stories. This thoughtful and inspiring tale educates as well as it entertains and will surely delight young readers. This is perfect for readers moving on to chapter books, or a great story to read to your child at bed time.
– Literary Titan
“Oscar the Osprey – The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights“
In Polansky’s debut book for young readers, ospreys are kings of the air. So what happens to a young osprey who’s afraid to fly?
This book tells the story of young Oscar the osprey from the very first moments of his life (“it took a while before I could see anything without squinting,” he says). While still a chick, he has the traumatic experience of almost falling out of his nest, and from that moment on, he grapples with crippling anxiety about heights—a serious handicap for a creature designed to fly in order to fish, migrate, and make his home in trees. Necessity is the mother of invention, so Oscar methodologically figures out how to live life with his disability and how to survive mostly alone when the other ospreys migrate south for the winter. The book is divided into chapters, and although they’re unnumbered and there’s no table of contents, it has the slimness and large pages of a picture book. It also has copious illustrations by Rosow, whose expressive line drawings are wonderfully reminiscent of both Jules Feiffer and Shel Silverstein. The book’s format may prove confounding for readers, or the parents of readers, seeking books for specific reading levels. However, its refusal to fit into neat categories is characteristic of its protagonist. In the end, this isn’t a story about Oscar forcing himself to change in order to fit into the way the world works. Rather than triumphing in a predictable way over his limitations, Oscar intriguingly learns to adapt to them and even turn them into strengths. He finds that his unique perspective gives him special abilities that are valued by his family and friends: “I never could fly above a low level without squinting….One thing was certain though; at a low level, I was the best there was.”
A sympathetic hero, engaging illustrations, and a strong message make this book a must-have for families, schools, and communities with differently abled kids.
– Kirkus Reviews
“Oscar the Osprey – The Bird with a Conundrum“
In this illustrated children’s book, a young osprey has an ethical dilemma.
In his debut novel, Oscar the Osprey: The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights (2015), Polansky introduced his avian title character and explained how he dealt with his fear of heights. Oscar also bravely stayed at Jenny Lake for the winter while his flock migrated south, a feat that has transformed him from outcast to hero. But what only Oscar and the timber wolves know is that he actually found a safe spot a short distance from the lake, returning to it just before his flock flew north. The idea that a lie doesn’t matter if it doesn’t hurt anyone (voiced by a bear) seems plausible. But Oscar’s brother Otto, upset that he’s lost his leadership position among the young ospreys to Oscar, nearly drowns when he tries to prove himself by attempting to catch a strong and wily trout. And if ospreys believe the wolf leader’s self-serving claim that Oscar’s feat was easy, and “it would be a great idea if all you ospreys stayed through the winter,” the results could be disastrous. Oscar summons his courage and meets with the elders to tell the truth. In the end, Oscar understands that being honest is more important than heroism. Polansky lays out the complications of Oscar’s conundrum well; it’s not quite as simple as lie versus truth, especially in light of Oscar’s history of being ostracized for fear of heights. Young readers will appreciate the elders’ compassionate response. In a few cases, however, Polansky misrepresents ospreys for the sake of his fable. The birds rarely form large flocks in winter, for example. Also, it’s unfortunate to replicate human sexism in Otto’s comment that his sister Oprah is “no competition….She was just a girl.” (Female ospreys are generally larger than males.) The story is bolstered by Rosow’s black-and-white ink illustrations. Expressive and scribbly, as when a tangled cloud of frustration overhangs Oscar, these are somewhat reminiscent of Jules Feiffer’s work, but with more compact line work and an original flair.
A charming tale about deceit’s tangled web with textured, kinetic illustrations.
– Kirkus Reviews
“Oscar the Osprey and His Diminutive Sister“
A shy osprey finds her confidence in this third installment of a chapter book series.
Small and quiet, Opie does not fit in with her fellow ospreys. Hoping for some alone time, she seeks refuge in the mountains, where she is attacked by an eagle. She is rescued by her worried brother, Oscar, who scares the predator away. As Opie convalesces, the other ospreys indulge in gossip. Their aloofness causes Opie to withdraw even more than usual. Concerned, Oscar consults the wise owl Woo, who explains that Opie is an introvert and “all you can do is to support her, not make her decisions.” During the osprey migration, Opie, Oscar, and their brother Otto get separated from the others following a hurricane. Opie skillfully retraces the “migration flight pattern” and instructs her brothers to circle, yelp, and listen until they locate their injured parents. To her brothers’ surprise, Opie takes charge of mom and dad’s healing. She even protects them from a hungry coyote. Opie “was developing into something new: a nurturer and caregiver, things she had never been before.” When the birds are strong enough to fly home, Opie leads the way. The other ospreys are surprised the family made it out of the storm alive and are shocked to learn that it was Opie – who now goes by her full name, Oprah – who kept the clan safe. The community’s elders are so impressed that they “thought about bringing Oscar, Otto, and Oprah within their council,” meaning “Oprah would be the first female elder – ever!” Eloquently written and engaging, Polansky’s story depicts the importance of courage in the face of hardships. The tale also emphasizes the need to respect different personality traits, temperaments, and abilities. Readers will root for the kind, empathetic characters here, particularly the three siblings who support one another during difficult times. The book occasionally references events in the author’s previous installments, such as how “Oscar was famous among the ospreys” and once had a fear of heights. Still, the story can easily be enjoyed and understood by new readers. Rosow’s simple but effective black-and-white line drawings depict pivotal scenes, like Opie’s tussle with the coyote.
A relatable and heartfelt avian adventure with an appealing cast.
– Kirkus Reviews
“Oscar the Osprey and His Daunting Decision“
In this fourth installment of Polansky’s illustrated children’s series, a bird takes risks to help others and find personal growth.
Oscar is a young osprey with two siblings, Otto and Oprah. One day, thanks to plenty of practice, he’s able to fly higher than ever. With his fear of heights defeated, Oscar can now see and do things he’s never done before. He’s surprised, though, to see the blue skies turn smoky and dark; it turns out to be a forest fire. When he spots a confused herd of bison heading toward dangerous flames, Oscar swoops down and warns them. Later, Oscar tells his brother about the blaze, and Otto, who “loves an audience,” spreads word of his sibling’s heroism throughout the flock. When the osprey Elders convene, the Grand Old Osprey, aka Goo, explains to Oscar that he has the potential to become an Elder himself: “One must first be tested by the natural forces of fire, wind, water, ice and earth,” Goo says. Since Oscar has already survived encounters with four of these elements in the past, earth represents his remaining challenge. Goo suggests that he think about and keep their conversation a secret. Oscar next seeks advice from the Wise Old Owl, who tells him to gain knowledge from other animals but that “knowledge alone is not enough; experience is what builds wisdom.” In Polansky’s charming tale, readers will be entertained while learning important values, such as patience. Rosow’s black-and-white pen-and-ink illustrations, depicting such phenomena as flames and geysers, are beautifully textured and likely to pique kids’ curiosity about the natural world. Later, when events don’t turn out as planned, the owl wisely tells Oscar, “As you have compassion for others, you should also have compassion for yourself.” Although the adventure is short, it features other interlinked messages; the final one is “Learn to be grateful for what you have.” A “Gloscary (Oscar’s Glossary)” at the end helps track the many challenging vocabulary words throughout, including apprehension and embellishments.
A smart, lovingly crafted middle-grade adventure that will speak to young readers.
– Kirkus Reviews