Let's just say it, I love Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall's books. The several I have read are quite profound and full of depth. But I recently read Hawk, I'm your Brother and had some mixed feelings about it.
The story is told in the usual Baylor/Parnall style of a blend of poetry and interesting layout choices and flowing sentences. It is about a boy who wants to fly. Though everyone says that people don't fly, he insists that he won't ever give up on his dream and "won't trade it for easier wishes."
In this regard, the book is like many others, showing a child with a passion for something who won't let anything stand in his way of achieving his dream. I like this kind of persistence, it is quite useful in life (particularly in a writing career.)
The boy decides the way to achieve his dream is to kidnap a hawk and keep it as a pet. Hoping maybe he can learn the magic of flying. Baylor apologizes for this act on one brief page. But he has the boy continue to hold the struggling bird captive.
The boy eventually lets the hawk go, after realizing that the bird is struggling for the very thing he wants too. He watches his "brother" take off and he himself feels, finally, like he is flying. And yes, the boy learns through his act of holding something against it's will, that captivity is not meant for creatures who want to fly.
But I don't like it. I don't think we should be taking birds from the wild to further our own dreams, neither actually, nor metaphorically. This is what humans have done for centuries. We want something, and we will stop at nothing to get it, especially Americans who are entrenched in freedom no matter what the cost, who it kills, or what is bulldozed in the process. We have devastated North America, not to mention the rest of the world with our human drives to get what we desire.
Baylor shows that the hawk leaves unharmed, and in fact returns to the boy remembering him as his brother. I find this a great stretch of fiction. Metaphorical I realize, but seriously? I am happy the boy finally finds a way to fly, but don't you think there is some other way we can achieve our dreams? Isn't there some learning that can take place without holding nature hostage?
The boy attempts to sacrifice one bird to further his own goals. What's one bird, you say? The thing is, we have already sacrificed so many birds that we can't afford to sacrifice a single bird more. No don't give up on your dreams, but don't hold others hostage so you can get them.