Secrets of the Loon
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.
With these words, the scene is set for the hatching of Moon Loon. 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.
The rhyming main text by Laura Purdie Salas shares Moon Loon’s story, and Chuck Dayton’s prose backmatter gives readers many more details about the facts introduced in the story. Laura is a long-time poet and writer of rhyming informational books, and Chuck is a photographer and former environmental attorney. He was instrumental in protecting loon habitat in Minnesota.
Authors: Laura Purdie Salas (rhyming text) and Chuck Dayton (backmatter)
Photographer: Chuck Dayton
Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press (5/1/20)
Add to your To Read shelf in Goodreads!
Awards & Recognition
- 2020 Bank Street Best Books
- Winner of the Riverby Award for nature writing
- Jeanette Fair Book Award Nominee
Signed Copies Available
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FREE Activity Sheets
Click on any image to open a downloadable .pdf file.
Book Trailer & Other Videos
Book Trailer with some student “loons” (1-1/2 minutes)
More Loon Photos (3 minutes)
Couldn’t get enough of Chuck Dayton’s wonderful loon photos? Here are some more, organized to go with the backmatter categories in Secrets of the Loon.
Facebook Launch Party Readaloud (8 minutes)
Enjoy our Facebook launch party (since our real life events were canceled)!
Movement Break for Storytime (8 minutes)
Sharing Secrets of the Loon in a storytime? Follow it up with this action/movement video and move along with Laura’s family members!
Storytime with the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum (31 minutes)
Live readaloud from Laura, a little movement break, and some backstory from the photographer, ChuckDayton. Half an hour of fun, story, rhyme, and science!
Chuck Dayton Talks with Minnesota Lakes & Rivers (1 hour)
Want to learn more from Chuck Dayton, Secrets of the Loon co-author and photographer? Listen as he speaks with the book club at Minnesota Lakes & Rivers Advocates. Click on the image to access the video!
The video starts out with a recording of Laura reading the book, and then:
- at about 12 minutes, Chuck begins talking about loon development and recounts his experiences with photographing loons
- at 41 minutes, there’s discussion into the Deepwater Horizon ecological disaster, plus lead sinkers, hunting, and more
- at 56 minutes, Chuck answers the question, “Are all the photos in the book of one loon chick?”
Reviews & More
Kirkus Reviews: “Fanciful—but factual where it matters.”
Listening Point Foundation book review: “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. It reminds us that what we carry inside, our respect and love for the planet that is our home and our beginning, is where we begin.”
KUMD radio interview with Chuck Dayton (9 minutes)
Classroom Connections with Michelle H. Barnes: Why poetry is important and a fun classroom/storytime activity.
Teacher Dance review: “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 when they go to warmer climates and when they return to their original places. What a great book to add to favorite poetry and science books.”
Reflections on the Teche blog review: “I hope one day I will see a loon in real life. But for now, Laura’s book takes me to a beautiful lake full of natural sights and sounds.”
Wrapped in Foil blog review: “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. Dive into the book today!” And there’s a link to a cute loon collage craft!
Simply 7 interview with teacher Jean Benton: “[T]his book may have popped into my life at the perfect time (as they sometimes do). I cannot stop being amazed at its beauty and fascinated by its delivery. This is simply a book you must read…” Learn how the book came about, too.
Sierra Club North Star Chapter: A post from co-author and photographer Chuck Dayton: “As I head into my 9th decade, and an uncertain political future, my fervent hope is that by the time I finish this adventure and have taken my last portage, we will have solved this climate problem, and that the almost vertical curve of CO2 and other global warming emissions since the 1950’s will level out and head downwards. I hope the book helps.”
Interview at Radio, Rhythm, & Rhyme: “I tried four different approaches: prose, rhyming, diary, and haiku collection…Here are some early excerpts.”
Interview at Live Your Poem: “The delicious: Listening to loon calls as I worked on the book. I would periodically pop over to the Loon Preservation Committee for a quick audio of loon calls.”
Linda Kulp Trout blog review: “The book has a magical feel to it. It’s one I know I’ll read again and again.”
Press release: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Waking Brain Cells review: “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.”
Funny loon poem by Phil Huffy
Informative loon poem by Carol at The Apples in My Orchard