Saving Jemima: Life and Love with a Hard-Luck Jay

Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2019. 272p. illus. index. ISBN 9781328518958. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781328518965. NAT HIST
Zickefoose (The Bluebird Effect; Baby Birds) tells the story of an orphaned baby blue jay she rehabilitates on her sanctuary in Ohio, and what happens when Jemima is released into the wild. Her affecting art enhances the narrative. During Jemima’s rehabilitation, the author focused on helping the blue jay recover from illness and starvation while preparing her to have the strength to fly again. There is much sentiment in this story but also science and analysis, as well as commentary from family and friends. Throughout, Zickefoose emphasizes common misconceptions about birds, refuting stereotypes and listing numerous features that vary from bird to bird. The result is easy, engaging prose that can be read alongside the PBS show Nature, which features Jemima’s story but easily stands on its own.
VERDICT A heartwarming account for all interested in natural history, especially birds, animal behavior, and wildlife rehabilitation.

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