Secrets of the Loon
Signed, personalized copies available
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Awards & Honors

Secrets of the Loon

Written by Laura Purdie Salas and Chuck Dayton
Illustrated by Chuck Dayton, photographer
Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2020
ISBN: 978-1681341583 38 pages


During her first summer with her parents and brother in the northland, Moon Loon has a lot to learn. Mom and Dad teach essential lessons, like how to catch and eat fish and how to avoid becoming a snack for snapping turtles. Moon Loon also discovers her secret skills, like how to float, how to dive, and— eventually—how to fly. This is a tale of wilderness, family, and independence.
Below white pines, at water’s edge,
in guarded nest of mud and sedge,
squeezed inside an olive egg,
bill meets wing meets folded leg.

Journal Reviews

Fanciful—but factual where it matters.
—Kirkus Reviews

Reader Reactions

This is a book to learn from, get lost in, refer to, to re-turn to, a capsule of the mystery of nature’s design.

—Listening Point Foundation

A favorite line: “Every secret Moon needs, / she carries inside.” which refers to the learning from parents and that mystery still unsolved as to how birds know where to migrate...

—Teacher Dance

Laura’s book takes me to a beautiful lake full of natural sights and sounds.

—Reflections on the Teche

Secrets of the Loon is a must-read for budding ornithologists… also a treat for the rest of us who wish we could visit a cold lake and listen to these amazing birds.

—Wrapped in Foil

Salas’s poetry rhymes with a lovely effortlessness that keeps the focus on the loons…[Dayton’s] clear and brilliant photos layer together to form forests, lakes, trees, reeds and more.

—Waking Brain Cells

The book has a magical feel to it. It’s one I know I’ll read again and again.

—Linda Kulp Trout

Downloadable Activities

Loonish Song

Photo Gallery

Laura on a loony storytime
Diving like loons
Sharing loon facts
Let's fly!
I love loons' haunting wails
Walking like loons

More for Educators or Writers

How this Book Got Started

This book began with an editor request. Photographer Chuck Dayton had gorgeous loon photos, and editor Shannon Pennefeather at Minnesota Historical Society Press wanted a picture book story with a lot of engaging science in it, and she reached out to me. I tried several forms (haiku, diary entries, lyrical prose, etc.) before writing the tale of Moon Loon's first summer in rhyme.

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