ABOUT THIS BOOK
The birdwatchers of Central Park were buzzing—a young red-tailed hawk had been spotted. Would he stay? The bird they dubbed Pale Male not only stayed, he became one of New York City’s most famous residents. Pale Male and his mate built their nest near the top of one of Fifth Avenue’s swankiest apartment buildings. Nine years and 23 chicks later, Pale Male’s fame had grown so large that a CBS newsman named him Father of the Year! But Pale Male was less beloved by the residents of the building, and in 2004 the owners suddenly removed the nest—setting off an international outcry on behalf of the birds.
ABOUT THIS AUTHOR
Janet Schulman is the editor of The 20th-Century Children’s Book Treasury. She has worked in children’s book publishing as an editor and an author for more than 40 years. She also compiled a follow-up anthology of classic stories of the 20th century, You Read to Me & I’ll Read to You. She lives in New York City.
Meilo So is the award-winning illustrator of The 20th-Century Children’s Poetry Treasury, The Beauty of the Beast, Tasty Baby Belly Buttons, and It’s Simple, Said Simon.
• Ask the class: Have you ever noticed the birds that live around your home? Do you know what types of birds are native to your area? What types of things do birds do?
• Have students fill out the first two sections of the KWL chart before reading the story.
What I KNOW about red-tailed hawks:
What I WANT to know:
What I LEARNED:
• As a class, brainstorm a list of verbs inspired by what birds do. Examples: swoop, peck, build.
DISCUSSION AND WRITING
1. What is in the center of New York City? Why was it a good place for a red-tailed hawk and other birds?
2. How did Pale Male get his name? How else is he different than other birds of his kind?
3. What happens to Pale Male’s first mate and the nests they built together?
4. Describe where Pale Male and his new mate move to the following year. Why is 927 Fifth Avenue a good address for both New Yorkers and hawks?
5. Explain why the people in the building don’t appreciate the hawks’ nest on their building. What do they do about it?
6. Discuss how the hawks have become like celebrities to the people of New York. What does it mean to be a celebrity? Would you like to have this much attention? Do you think the birds mind it?
7. List the steps the young chicks have to take to learn to fly and feed themselves. How does their father help?
8. How do Pale Male and his nest become evicted from the Fifth Avenue building? How do the people of the city (and the whole world) react to this? What is the result?
9. Which illustration is your favorite? Why? How do the illustrations tell you things about Pale Male that the words do not?
10. What can you learn from the story of Pale Male? How can you impact the environment in your own neighborhood? How can you help your neighbor birds?
Vocabulary/Use of Language
As students read Pale Male, have them define the following words using the context clues (or how they are used in the story) to figure out what they mean. Then have them write sentences of their own using the words.
Sing this first verse about Pale Male to the tune of “Have you ever seen a butterfly?” Then compose a class verse to follow this one!
Have you ever seen Pale Male?
Have you ever seen Pale Male as he wings on by?
Meilo So plays a great deal with perspective in Pale Male. Explain to students how the view she uses changes to show the reader a different way of looking at the topic. Share the illustrations from the top of the building down, from the street level up, from tree height, and from other interesting angles. Have students sketch the same natural subject (perhaps a bird in your own neighborhood) from a variety of angles (or perspectives) using the reproducible activity sheet below. They can add color, and even try watercolors as Meilo So does in the book.
Have students choose another bird of interest and research it in the library and on the Internet. Reproduce the activity sheet below and have them fill in the graphic organizer with information on the bird’s natural habitat, food, enemies, and other interesting facts.
Revisit the KWL chart and have students fill in what they’ve learned from Pale Male in the third section. Ask for volunteers to share what they’ve found most interesting about the book.
Click here to download the Teacher's Guide PDF