Written and illustrated by Ted and Betsy Lewin
Every April, the Westman Islands off the coast of Iceland become home to hundreds of thousands of puffins, making the islands one of the largest puffin colonies in the world.Adult puffins return to the island every year to lay eggs. By August, the young birds, called pufflings, are ready to leave home and fly off to sea. However, some of the birds become confused when they see the lights of nearby towns and flutter down into the streets instead of flying into the waves. Groups of children and adults, called The Puffling Patrol, roam the streets every night looking for lost birds and bringing them back to the beach so they can make it out to sea.
Puffling Patrol tells the story of one group of puffling rescuers and their work during a recent summer on Heimaey Island. Authors Ted and Betsy Lewin traveled to Iceland to visit the puffin colonies and go out on patrol with one family. The Lewins take readers on an amazing experience. They battle stormy seas to explore the puffins’ burrows in the steep cliffs of the island and visit a natural history museum, where island birds are studied and cared for. The Lewins also meet young twins Dani and Erna and their father, who are part of the Puffling Patrol. That night, the children rescue a young puffling and the Lewins accompany them back to the museum the next day to release the bird and others like it.
The Lewins tell their story in detailed, exciting language that is full of adventure and wonder. The delicate color illustrations perfectly capture the beauty of the island and the villagers’ love and concern for the little birds. The vivid combination of words and pictures will delight and excite readers and introduce them to an amazing wildlife experience.
While Puffling Patrol is a bit challenging for a third grader to read independently, it would make a wonderful choice for a teacher to read aloud to the class. The book would also be a great choice for a nature-themed reading list. The book includes extensive back matter about the puffins, the islands, and the reasons pufflings are becoming scarce. There is also a glossary with a pronunciation guide and a section listing more information about puffins. These extras make Puffling Patrol even more valuable as a classroom resource and lend themselves to creating lesson plans, reading activities, and reading worksheets. Puffling Patrol is a beautiful addition to any second-grade classroom library.