The boys and I finished reading another book last night and everyone loved it. It is Ali and the Golden Eagle by Wayne Grover. It is sadly out of print, but there are plenty of used copies for sale. (Just to remind everyone, if you buy something through one of my Amazon links, it helps us a little over here.) I happened to come across a description of it in the Rainbow Resources catalogue as I was reading it last month and thought it sounded interesting, and a change from the Three Investigators. (Yes, I read the giant 2000+ page homeschooling catalogue that arrives under my mailbox every year. It's a quirk, but it often pays off.)
What I hadn't realized when we started reading it is that it was a true story about an American who worked for an US oil company in Saudi Arabia in the 70's. In the course of his wanderings around the area where he lived he happened upon a remote village deep in a canyon and befriends the people who live there. They are excellent falconers and the author manages to capture a golden eagle chick to give to a boy in the village. The rest of book is a window into how raptors are trained and the relationship between the eagle and the boy. I wasn't sure I would be terribly interested, but ended up loving it as much as the boys.
Other than just being a good read, it would be great to go along with a study of the Middle East in general or Saudi Arabia in particular or if you were studying raptors. I am now on a search for a falconry demonstration that we can go to because the three of us are quite interested to see some real birds in action. An added benefit is the discussion opportunities that it provides about whether it is better to live in isolation and relative contentedness or to have modern conveniences and health care along with the rest of the angst of the modern world.
It almost makes me want to study raptors this year for school, but since I have the finish line in sight for my school year planning, I'm not going to go back and redo it now. Another year perhaps...