Swoop and Soar: How Science Rescued Two Osprey Orphans and Found Them a New Family in the Wild, written by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp, is an exciting and uplifting real-life rescue story. Swoop and Soar pulls you in right from the beginning, beginning by describing a male osprey hunting for fish using his amazing adaptations: keen eyesight, sharp talons, and powerful wings. He is hunting to feed his two baby chicks, who are later thrown from the nest and lose their family when their tree falls during a strong storm.

Students will be at the edge of their seats as raptor biologist Janie Veltkamp races to find the chicks a foster family in the wild—something only very few experts can do. Near the water, Janie finds another pair of osprey parents who lost their own chicks in the same storm. The suspense peaks when the authors write, “Janie knew that without chicks to feed, the new mother and father would give up the dock nest in as soon as three days.” Will Janie get the chicks, whom she names Swoop and Soar, into the new nest in time? Will these new osprey parents accept and care for the babies?

The beautiful photographs that accompany the story help readers to understand and appreciate this magnificent marine species. Through the story of Swoop and Soar, readers learn about how osprey parents care for and protect their babies, how the chicks develop and learn to fly, and how ospreys’ many incredible adaptations, like diving completely under the water to catch their prey, help them survive.

The book also contains several bonus sections, including “A note from raptor biologist Janie Veltkamp,” in which Janie shares the challenges of her work through Birds of Prey Northwest, rescuing osprey chicks and reintroducing ospreys into areas where the species had become extinct. Another section, “All About Ospreys,” contains factual information for children and adults to learn more about where ospreys live, how they build their nests, and how they’re adapted to a life dependent on shallow water. This section additionally discusses how ospreys became endangered in 1976 from human use of the chemical DDT to kill insects, and what risks ospreys still face today from human activity, like the massive increase in plastic pollution.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this book. This inspiring true story, paired with abundant factual information about ospreys, will help young readers develop empathy and concern for wildlife. I would recommend this book both for home reading and the elementary school classroom. In my opinion, third through fifth grade would get the most out of this book, but it could be used as a read-aloud with younger students as well. There is also a free educational guide available at www.birdsofpreynorthwest.org, complete with discussion questions, key vocabulary, and information about related STEM careers.

Swoop and Soar (hardcover and softcover) is published by Persnickety Press/WunderMill Books and won the national De Bary Award for Outstanding Children’s Science Books from the American Phytopathological Society.