Follow Mary Casanova on Facebook. Skype information
Mary Casanova - Books for Young People
When Eagles Fall by Mary Casanova
When Eagles Fall
written by Mary Casanova
University of MN Press, 2014
(PB) 978-0-81669-211-8

ebook: Kindle, Nook, Kobo

An eagle's nest on Rainy Lake on the Minnesota-Canadian border.
When Eagles Falls from Autographed books!
When Eagles Fall
Book Description:

After getting in trouble and in a near-fatal accident, Alex Castille-Reed is sent to join her biologist father on an eagle-banding expedition in International Falls, Minnesota. She soon finds herself stranded on a small island with an injured eaglet, forced to fight for her own life, as well as that of her new charge.

Struggling against a storm, a bear, and hunger, Alex uses resources she never knew she had to make it home again.

Readers will find When Eagles Fall to be an exciting adventure story of survival and self-discovery.

Reviews and Comments
Alex, whose parents are separated, is visiting her biologiest father in Minnesoata when she is involved with an adventure that turns out to be more than she could have expected...This fine adventure story features a strong-minded girl who must find a way to survive. ... satisfying ...

... an obviously well-researched survival novel with lots of local color and a teenage heroine who turns out to have plenty of grit. A good choice for reluctant readers."

Thirteen-year-old Alexis has been "banished" (her word) by her mother, who lives in San Diego (sic) [San José], to International Falls, Minnesota, where her father is the foremost authority on the bald eagle. [When Alexis gets involved in saving an eaglet she finds herself stranded on an island] The tale moves along well and will be enjoyed particularly by readers of survivalist stories. The author's note describes her hands-on research with eagle experts and includes several Web sites."
—Kirkus Reviews

The details of Alexis' experience in the wilderness are graphic and moving. ... The family issues in her life add depth to her character. ...
—Library Talk

After a binge-drinking incident leaves her hospitalized, Alex is "banished" to the wilderness of Minnesota to help her father with his eagle research project. [Alex gets stranded on a bat-infested remote island and must survive with little water and food.] Casanova has written an eco-adventure story that also provides valuable information about eagle research; ....
—School Library Journal

"When Eagles Fall is a strong survivalist tale that the young at heart will enjoy soaring with."

Society of School Librarians International (SSLI) “Honor? Book 2002
Curriculum Information
More Information about Eagles and Raptor Centers:

Eagles: The Raptor Center, St. Paul, Minnesota

Death and Grief: An extensive book list from Barr-Harris Children's Grief Center, Chicago.

Death and Grief: Articles on talking to children about death and loss from Hospice Net.

Click here for a larger image
of this map.

After Alexis participates in an out-of-control near fatal drinking party, Alexis's mother, who lives in San Diego, "banishes" Alex to International Falls, Minnesota to live with her father. Her father puts her to work helping him band eagles in Rainy Lake, Minnesota. Rainy Lake and International Falls are real places -- in fact, it is where the author lives. Find out more about the location by visiting the Rainy Lake - International Falls official website.

Literature Circles:

A group of fifth graders from Des Moines, Iowa teamed up with adult residents of a nearby nursing home to read and discuss When Eagles Fall. As they discussed the novel they also generated some questions that they decided to send to the author. Here are their questions and Mary Casanova's answers.

Did events in this story actually happen to you?
MC: There are pieces of this story that are very familiar to me. I live on Rainy Lake and my favorite spot to visit is Skipper Rock Island, which is inhabited by a nesting pair of eagles. We can only go onshore after mid-August once the eaglets have fledged.

In order to write about the eagles and eagle research methods, I joined a team of biologists who annually visit numerous nests up here at Voyageurs National Park. We traveled by boat and visited about a dozen nests over two days time; some nests were on islands, like Skipper Rock, and others were inland, requiring hiking through undergrowth. Though I thought I'd just be taking notes or photographs from a distance, the researchers put me to work and while they took blood samples and measurements from the eaglets and put bands on their legs for identification, I often found myself squatting on the ground and holding the eaglet's legs, which were yellow, waxy, and warm. Without this kind of hands-on research, I doubt I could have written the story.

As part of the research for writing WHEN EAGLES FALL, Mary worked with eagle experts and biologists in Voyageurs National Park. Here Mary holds the legs of a nearly adult size eaglet as the biologists take blood samples, measurements, and place metal identification bands around the eaglet's leg(s) before returning it to its nest.
Why did you pick an eaglet for the animal of the book?
MC: Eagles fly past my house throughout the year and I often see them when I'm out canoeing or houseboating on Rainy Lake. Writers write about what interests them and so it was natural for me to want to write a story that focused on eagles.
Have you always been interested in animals?
MC: I grew up in a family of ten children and we always had an equally large "herd" of pets, from a Shetland pony to goats to geese and gerbils and hamsters and dogs and cats and bunnies ... I grew up with a love of animals and my own children have carried on the pet tradition. Now we're down to three pets ... a cat and two dogs.

I also credit my parents for helping instill in their children a love for nature and the northwoods. Because of that love, I left the Twin Cities after college and moved north with my husband to live where wilderness abounds.
Is this book based on your own life?
MC: There's always a bit of me in my stories. I have lost two dear friends to cancer and while I was writing this story, my son's best friend was undergoing treatments for cancer. I wanted to write a story about loss and moving on, though I didn't know how the story would end until I wrote the book.

Also, I wanted to explore what happens when kids, girls especially, go from being good kids who suddenly take some sharp turns toward trouble. I believe that when we make decisions that seem self-destructive, it's often because we haven't faced something painful in our lives. In When Eagles Fall, Alex (and her family) haven't dealt head-on with their feelings and loss of Jonathan. Instead of pulling together, they each turned inward and pulled apart. We need each other, especially in difficult times, but when we're hurting the most, those are the times when we know the least how to be open and honest and how to receive the love others might be trying to extend toward us. Love and forgiveness are the strongest tools we have to be in relationship with one another...we just don't always know how to use them.

I wish you the very best as you move on through life, no matter your age. We're all kids at heart, whether we're 11 or 91, and we all need one another.

©1998 Mary Casanova. Site designed and maintained by Winding Oak.