Candace Fleming
When Agnes Caws
Anne Schwartz Books,
Atheneum, 1999
978-0689814716
ages 4 to 8
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When Agnes Caws

written by Candace Fleming
illustrated by Giselle Potter

Curriculum Guide available

When eight-year-old Agnes Peregrine, an accomplished birdcaller, travels with her parents to the Himalayas in search of the elusive pink-headed duck, she encounters a dastardly foe.

Awards and Honors
ALA Notable Book
CCBC Choices 2000 
Junior Library Guild Selection
New York Public Library 1999 One hundred Books for Reading and Sharing
School Library Journal Best Book 1999

Read the Reviews
Agnes Peregrine, the young daughter of a noted ornithologist, has many talents, the most impressive of which is birdcalling. A natural mimic, she summons common and exotic species alike with her chirps and warbles. The World Bird Society learns of her prowess and elects to send Agnes and her mother to the Himalayas in search of the exceedingly rare pink-headed duck. The problem is that no one knows what sounds it makes. “Then I'd better get quacking,” replies the determined youngster. Agnes inadvertently imitates the bird's call and succeeds in attracting the elusive specimen. As it turns out, the unscrupulous Colonel Edwin Pittsnap is also covetous of the duck and proceeds to steal it. Not satisfied, he demands that Agnes call some more birds for his collection. So she does…a lot more, all of which swarm and dive at the evil Pittsnap, sending him fleeing down the mountain in terror. Taken alone, this understated story may fall into the featherweight category, but in conjunction with its whimsical watercolors, this picture book is something to sing about. Potter's palette is predominately earth tones and her signature elongated figures are particularly expressive given the economy of line. Anyone looking for a plucky heroine, a humorous eco-adventure, a satisfying theme of greed being vanquished, and some glorious artwork should consider giving Agnes a caw.

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