This is the heart-warming true story of a firefighter, his pet black cat, and a lost magpie.
One day, an injured baby magpie, as yet too young to fly, was rescued from the side of the road by volunteer firefighter Matt Owens. He named the magpie "Swoop" and took it home with him. Matt's cat Mogli and Swoop formed a close relationship. They were inseparable, even snuggling up together to sleep at night.
Swoop made friends with artist Emma Gustafson, who lived nearby, so when Matt decided to write the little magpie's story, Emma was the obvious choice to provide the illustrations.
In our household we are keen readers (my youngest child can't read but enjoys sitting down to listen to a story) While browsing the KIWIreviews site, my eyes scanned over the items available to request, and I was instantly drawn to "The Story of Swoop". This story is inspired by a true animal rescue, which intrigued my eldest son, as his friends had raised a magpie from a young age.
The story starts off with firefighter Matt spotting a baby magpie injured on the side of the road, which he takes home to take care of, he names it 'Swoop.' Swoop got introduced to Matt's cat Mogli and they became inseparable - this my children just couldn't understand at first, as they thought surely Mogli being a cat would want to eat the bird. The story follows Swoop as she figures out where she wants to be - whether that was at home with Matt, or with other birds.
This book is full of eye-catching illustrations that help to bring the story to life. The way the animals and the scenery have been drawn is vivid and shows great detail - especially when looking at Swoop and seeing the details in her feathers etc.
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed this heartwarming story, it has become a favourite, I think this would best suit primary school-aged children, possibly younger.
The Story of Swoop is a wonderful book about a baby magpie that is found and later adopted by Matt, a firefighter. After Swoop survives the night, Matt introduces her to Mogli, this black cat. The two become best of friends until Swoop finds other magpies and joins them.
I read this book (before handing it over to my girls) and really enjoyed it. As my 11-year-old daughter later agreed, the book was easy to read. This would make a great introduction to chapter books as there were enough words to make the story descriptive and interesting, without being overwhelmed with too many words. The illustrations were amazing and very detailed. I did notice that on the first page there was a caterpillar that changed into a chrysalis on the following page. It stayed a chrysalis throughout the book until the very end of the story when it changed into a butterfly and flew away when Swoop did, which I thought was rather symbolic.
At the back of the book is a note and photographs from the author, Matt Owens. I really liked the photos of Swoop and Mogli together as cats and birds don't usually get along! It was lovely to see photos of them sleeping together. Overall, my kids and I really enjoyed this story based on true events. It was a heartwarming feel-good story that would make a great gift.
Miss 10 picked up this book and asked what it was about - I said it was probably a bit young for her. Game on! - she sat down immediately and started to read it. Only after she had finished it did she put it down and ask me why I had thought it might be too young for her. She had loved the story, and intended to read it again as soon as she could. She is into nature with a vengeance; this story had captured her interest right from the start with the picture of Matt the fireman looking out at the injured bird. He did exactly what she would have done - rescued it and took it home to see if he could heal it!
The story traces the rehabilitation of Swoop. from her friendship with Matt to her acceptance of Mogli the cat as her big brother. As Swoop grows bigger, however, it becomes clear that she is a wild creature and needs to find her own family - unlike Mogli, who is a domesticated animal and happy living with his human. The artwork is delightful: Miss 10 enjoys arts and crafts herself, and was particularly impressed by the colours artist Emma Gustafson had chosen as backgrounds for the austere black-and-white magpie plumage. The golden sunset beyond the resting cat and magpie, and the red blossom and green chrysalis in the pictures where Swoop meets the kingfisher, are especially vibrant.
What made this story really special for Miss Ten was realising that it was a true story, and that Swoop not only made her home for a while with Matt and Mogli, but also introduced herself to Emma quite independently. She also made friends with the local children and became quite tame around people generally. Although Miss Ten was more than capable of reading the text as well as admiring the graphics, a younger child could follow the story quite adequately by just looking at the pictures. Some of the younger members of our family do just that, telling themselves the story as they flip through the pictures, picking up on the words as and when they are able to read. A child as young as two or three would enjoy having this book read to them, while an older child like Miss Ten can read it confidently and discuss the content.
One point that struck me was that this book would be a wonderful introduction for a child who had been adopted or otherwise separated from his birth family for whatever reason. The themes of kindness, nurturing and rehabilitation are constants in the story; the concept of family extends to caregivers and a wider circle of friends. Swoop has been adopted by a man and a cat, and by extension, other humans - and for a while Swoop actually thinks she might be a human too. When she eventually does find her close relatives, the foster family she has left are not forgotten; she returns periodically for a visit. A happy ending for all.
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