Sunday, 21 December 2014

Horus the Peregrine - Childrens Book Review

The latest children's book in the 'Chick Book' series is out this winter (Dec 2014) and is named Horus the Peregrine Falcon, which follows the story of a newly fledged peregrine surviving in the city of London. The name Horus comes from a highly worshipped falcon god in Egypt 5000 years ago, with worshipping continuing by the conquering Greeks and Romans 2500 years later!

The book starts with the hatching of Horus and three other chicks at the Houses of Parliament, high up Victoria Tower, looking across to some of the cities iconic landmarks like Big Ben and The London Eye. An abundance of factual species information is included, starting from the very first page, with two examples of sexual dimorphism of peregrines, with the females being larger than the males from birth. 
Front cover
Urban peregrines main food source, feral pigeon are featured strongly in the book due to the damage the pigeons can cause to urban areas through the spread of disease, and also their droppings damaging stonework. This emphasises the important role the raptors play in controlling their numbers. Page 6-7 of the book quickly confirms why the subtitle is 'Catch the Pigeon'. 

There is a very powerful message included in the story regarding the influence MPs and Lords housed in the Houses of Parliament have dictated the life (or death) of peregrines. This is due to their participation in grouse shooting which involves managing areas of moorland just for grouse to be shot for fun. This causes instances of illegal persecution of predators such as peregrines, harriers, eagles and wildcats, to protect grouse and make Great Britain one of the worst countries in the world for wildlife crime! 
This is a vital inclusion for children and adults to learn about the serious threats to their native species and their natural heritage as a whole. Providing honesty to children from a young age is very important for their development. 

Peregrines illegally killed on grouse moors...
Towards the end of the book Horus even hunts in the back garden of Buckingham Palace and targets one of the queens fantail doves, as it just escapes the falcons grasp. Again this is a powerful message relating to the Royal families involvement and enjoyment in killing animals, and their connection with shooting estates.

Horus hunting in the queens back garden
Horus ends up visiting a number London attractions including, Big Ben, The London Eye, Trafalgar Sq, Tower of London, Canary Wharf, O2 Arena and the Victoria Embankment on his search for pigeons. The author promotes the species with clear intent that he wants peregrines to be a major London attraction of the future!

Horus preening on the London Eye
This book finishes with information about one of the most famous nature conservationists of the 20th century, Derek Ratcliffe, who helped make the discovery that agricultural chemicals weakened peregrines egg shells. This discovery enabled a major recovery of the bird that we can all enjoy today. 

The story of Horus works on two levels, enthusing and educating adults as well as children, and makes you want to go out and witness a peregrine ruling an urbanian skyline. With 80% of the UK population living in an urban environment, with the figure set to increase to 90% by 2050, the title could be an integral way to keep children connected with nature. The book of Horus has the power to inspire the next generation to 'worship' peregrines and maybe even help produce the next Derek Radcliffe! 

View more in the 'Chick Book' series here - www.chickbooks.co.uk 

Horus is available to buy here -



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