I spent this past weekend with my family in the mountains, where eagles and imaginations soar. Surrounded by green hills and skies unblemished by the glare of city lights, unplugged from the internet and the world’s problems, we basked in nature and imagined a simpler time and place.
Title: Chalk Eagle
Written & Illustrated By: Nazli Tahvili
Publisher/date: Tiny Owl Publishing/2018
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: wordless picture book; imagination; eagles; freedom; #ReadYourWorld
Brief Synopsis: After a young child watches an eagle soar overhead, he uses chalk to draw an eagle and an image of himself so that he, too, can fly.
Links to Resources:
- Learn about eagles and other birds;
- Watch the book trailer;
- Using chalk, create wings in your home or classroom as a group project that encourages all of the children to imagine themselves flying;
- Close your eyes & imagine you are flying over your home, school or the town where you live. What do you see? How do you recognize it from above? What adventures will you enjoy?
Why I Like this Book:
Using only silkscreened variants of three colors, sky blue, grassy green, and chalky white, Tahvili shows the reader the empowering freedom achieved when a young child lets his imagination soar. By telling the story only with images, Tahvili leaves space for the reader – a parent, teacher or even a child – to imagine why a young child leaves his home to soar above the mountains: is he remembering a special place? Seeking a special someone or something in a far-away land? Or perhaps tired of city noises and smells and seeking solitude in nature? And because the silk-screening process leaves the edges indistinct, the reader can fill in the details and imagine that the mountain scenery is, perhaps, a favorite location that s/he has visited in the past.
I like that Chalk Eagle is no mere flight of fancy. Rather, the boy sees the eagle and then uses his creative powers, his artistic skills, to recreate it and himself. Thus, through art, the boy, and the reader, gain freedom.
I also like that through images alone, Tahvili tells a story that anyone can enjoy and share with others, regardless of where s/he lives, the language s/he speaks, and even whether s/he is literate.
A Note about Craft:
In an Afterword, award-winning Iranian artist Tahvili shares that Chalk Eagle was inspired by her husband’s childhood reminiscences of drawing eagles on his rooftop and flying with them in his imagination. What childhood reminiscences can you mine for story ideas that soar?
While I’m not an illustrator and won’t pretend to critique the stylistic components of Chalk Eagle, I learned so much by examining each spread and the page turns to see how Tahvili paces the story and draws readers into it.
Tiny Owl Publishing is an independent children’s publisher whose editors believe “that stories act as bridges – providing pathways to new experiences whilst connecting us to here and there.” Chalk Eagle is part of Tiny Owl’s wordless picture book campaign, which celebrates the power and possibilities of wordless picture books.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!