Orlando the Brave Vulture
Tomi Ungerer ~ Harper & Row, 1966
Since Ungerer is top of mind and I am in the market for bird books for Christmas, I thought I'd share this story and send out a call for recommendations of books like it. As you know, my son's wild for birds, and I'm always searching for titles where the hero is a bird or a bird plays a large part in the story. Though we haven't read it yet, I ordered a copy of the goose tale The Real Thief (the boy's been digging Steig's Dominic on audio book this week), but I'm still looking for other options. Any suggestions as to where else I should turn?That said, our story begins with Orlando the vulture flying across the body of a dying and lost gold miner. Now, seeing Orlando perched over the man's body would lead you to believe you know what happens next... after all, we see it every single day played out on our nation's highways. The circle of life at its most functional. Well, you can't judge a bird by its cover.
Among the man's belongings he found a picture of the miner's wife and son. There was nothing Orlando could do for him, so he tied up the various objects in a bandanna and flew off.
Thus begins an adventure in search of the miner's family that includes intrigue and kidnapping and a grand finale in an Indian village that would suit any Frank Capra film where Orlando becomes the only beloved vulture in Mexico. My son the nature show enthusiast will be the first to tell you how smart and useful vultures are. And his biggest thrill in life is when we come across a cell phone tower that is swamped with them. Maybe your little ones are just as inspired by these winged scavengers, maybe they aren't. Either way, it's a great read by the always entertaining Ungerer. His books would stuff anyone's stocking with awesome.
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