Picture Books that Delight and Inform

The Hawk of the Castle


The  Hawk of the Castle
by Danna Smith
illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
published by Candlewick Press
April 2017
Nonfiction Picture Book
Ages 4 and up
ISBN-10: 0763679925
ISBN-13: 978-0763679927

Gentle verse and sweeping, majestic artwork set imaginations soaring in a handsome and illuminating ode to the ancient art of falconry.

Join a young girl and her father, the falconer at a medieval castle, as they experience the joys of taking a goshawk out for a training flight. The girl leads readers through all the preparations and equipment needed for the flight — from the hawk’s hood and bells to the falconer’s glove — culminating in a dramatic demonstration of the hawk’s hunting skill. Bagram Ibatoulline’s masterful illustrations capture the vivid details and beauty of a day spent hawking, while Danna Smith’s poetic storytelling will make readers long to experience the art and sport of falconry firsthand.

**Starred reviews,  a Junior Library Guild Selection, a 2018 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People and 2018 Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year.

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Watch the Book Trailer

Activity: Castle Maze

Hawk activity castle maze (jpg)



Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Ibatoulline’s (The Matchbox Diary) stunningly realistic acrylic and gouache scenes illustrate from all angles, offering close-ups of the hawk, pastoral panoramas, and breathtaking aerial vistas...What young readers may appreciate most, though, is the story, beautifully presented, of the bonding between a daughter and father

School Library Journal Starred Review

Ibatoulline’s stunning illustrations depict the father/daughter pair hunting and learning together in a landscape of brilliant color and detail...An imaginative and unique title to introduce elementary schoolers to hawks and falconry in a medieval setting—an ideal read-aloud selection, too.

New York Times

Ibatoulline invites you into his sweeping, realistic scenes with cleverly shifting perspectives. ...But perhaps most thrilling is a book with a castle featuring a girl who’s curious and accomplished, with her social status and marital prospects blissfully beside the point.


The fictional narrative gives the book structure, while the details of falconry add interest and purpose. In the author’s note, Smith tells of learning “the ancient sport” from her father, a falconer. A beautifully designed and illustrated volume.


A trained hawk serves as fierce centerpiece to broad, sweeping views of castle and countryside in this rhapsodic tribute to the craft of falconry...An idyllic picture of an ancient practice

The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Ibatoulline’s fine, realistic pictures of castle, landscape and soaring predator have a wonderful feeling of sweep and drama. In small panels, Ms. Smith supplements her poetry with falconry facts and historical context.

Awards & Honors

Starred Review School Library Journal

Starred Review Publishers Weekly

2018 Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year
A Junior Library Guild Selection
2018 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People from The National Council for the Social Studies and    The Children's Book Council.
Imagination Soup's Best Nonfiction Books of 2017
Chicago Public Library's list of Best Informational Books For Younger Readers 2017
Rhyme Revolution's Top 20 rhyming picture books