The Ghost of Donley Farm

Library Media Connection - May 2015

A look at two birds of the raptor category, this book uses fictional animals to give nonfiction facts. Rebecca, a red-tail hawk, and Bernard the barn owl become friends and discuss their differences and similarities. They decide it is well that they do not compete by hunting at the same time of day and are comfortable with their own design. Activities are included; this educational section includes information about dinurnal and nocturnal animals, the raptor diet, fun facts about the barn owl and red-tail hawk, and raptor adaptations. A teaching guide is free on the publisher�s website. The book presents facts in an interesting way; the slightly larger font makes the text easier for emergent readers. Full-color illustrations give good visual support to the facts being presented. The end material and online activities really make the book a wonderful combination of story and subject-related material.
-Betsy Ruffin, Educational Reviewer, Cleburne, Texas [Editor�s Note: Available in e-book format and paperback.] HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Kirkus Reviews - July 2014

"This "ghost" story introduces children to the habits, habitats and adaptations of a red-tailed hawk and a barn owl.

Rebecca's habitat on the Donley Farm is perfect for a hawk: wide fields and meadows, ponds, an old fence and a big maple tree. She knows every inch, yet she's never seen the famous barn ghost, until the night she stays up late. At first frightened of the scary screeches, Rebecca eventually makes the acquaintance of Bernard. As the two get to know each other, they talk about the adaptations each has that allow survival: stiff versus soft feathers, differences in eye shapes and sizes (hawks also see color), bare legs versus feathered legs for the cool nights. In the end, Rebecca comes to the conclusion that if both she and Bernard were diurnal, one of them would go hungry; as it is, they can share a habitat. Klein�s illustrations nicely extend the text, though some could use labeling, as with the picture comparing the two birds' feathers (addressed later in the backmatter), and the birds are slightly anthropomorphized. The backmatter provides more facts about raptors, red-tailed hawks and barn owls and challenges readers to identify nocturnal and diurnal animals.

A solid tale about two birds of prey that seamlessly blends in learning.

Midwest Book Review - April 2015

Three excellent Arbordale Picture Books use storytelling or poetry to teach children about amazing animals and the natural world... The Ghost of Donley Farm is a storybook about a hawk's encounter with an owl, whose keen vision, skillful hunting ability, and white feathers against the moonlight have given it a reputation as a ghost!

Heck of a Bunch - February 2015

This book, with appealing illustrations, tells the tale of a red-tailed hawk who has heard stories of a ghost living on a farm. Not afraid, the hawk sets out to explore. What she finds is not really a ghost; it's a barn owl named Bernard. The two then learn more about each other and how they're so much alike, yet so different.

Reader's Haven Reviews - March 2015

When I first opened the book and saw the amount of text on the pages of this picture book, I thought it was going to be a loser. However, as I read through the story I realized that it flowed beautifully and with grace to tell the story of the Red Hawk raptor comparing himself to the Barn Owl.

There is a nice story here that presents a variety of learning opportunities. Overcoming fear of the unknown. Comparing oneself to others in a favorable light. Understanding the differences in physical attributes of each of these raptors and what makes them particularly suited for either day or night.

I found the story a delightful read and believe it suitable as a read aloud for the young child or early elementary, or even for the middle elementary grade child to read to themselves. As the reader peruses the pages, one can find a variety of critters for which the raptors would be looking. Well done illustrations that convey the spirit of the story.

Outnumbered 3 to 1 - March 2015

This is a great book that intertwines a story of a bird and his new "ghost" friend and then it talks about their differences and similarities in a way that readers will find interesting. I enjoy these stories that blend fiction with non-fiction.

So Cal City Kids - July 2015

"I love how this one shows how the two characters (Rebecca and Bernard) are similar and how they are different. The For Creative Minds section allows children to continue these comparisons with activities that include: Diurnal or Nocturnal, Raptor Diets and Raptor Fun Facts. I recommend for grades K-3."

Bookloons - April 2016

This informative picture book, with captivating illustrations featuring lots of dialogue, not only explains how these two types of raptors are similar and different but it also offers a good story for beginning readers.

Puget Sound Council for the Review of Children's Books - August 2016

This slightly anthropomorphized book straddles that elusive line between fiction and nonfiction that some choose to call narrative nonfiction. The book is clearly fiction, but the author has carefully and painstakingly stuffed it full of facts about habitat, diet, anatomy, and behavior for both types of birds.