Uncategorized: ben woodard book review children's book native american the boy who flew with eagles
by J.A. Beard
At the beginning of Ben Woodard’s children’s book, The Boy Who Flew With Eagles, a Native American elder relates a story to the younger generation. That narrative frame is used to relate the rest of the book’s story. While only a small number of paragraphs are used to support the framing device in the beginning and the end, it’s a nice atmospheric touch and a nice reminder of the lengthy heritage of storytelling, especially in this modern age of e-readers and internet distribution.
As one might derive from the title, the story itself is a briskly paced tale of a young Native American boy who ends up captured by a mother eagle but subsequently befriends the eagle and her family. Though this is a children’s book, the author doesn’t dumb-down the language, but neither does he make it overwhelming. Grade school readers will, I believe, find the writing engaging and accessible. There’s a combination of both action and character development to excite them and get them to understand the main character.
While as a parent, I don’t believe that it’s inherently wrong to have violence in children’s books (after all, violence is a part of life and existence), the current media landscape for children is somewhat saturated by stories that feature a lot of battle. There’s a threat of violence in this tale in relation to the cycle of life, but otherwise the story is free of those elements.
For a relatively short tale, there’s a surprising amount of thematic heft. A variety of subjects from resource usage responsibility to empathy are handled in a way that are accessible for children. In that way, this book would probably lend itself well to a classroom or library discussion, but can be enjoyed quite well by younger readers without any sort of critical analysis involved.