For the blissful blink of a moment spent in this book, we don’t simply get to know Jemima; we get to be Jemima as we are welcomed into Julie’s family home. We’re offered sustenance with the descriptions and illustrations of all the food Jemima uses to grow up strong. We’re invited into bird-dominated conversation by Zickefoose’s stunning paintings of Jemima that introduce each chapter as though they were hanging casually on the walls of her home. And, only reaffirming the bond the author has already established with the reader, the book’s conclusion is the equivalent of an unforgettable heart-to-heart at the end of a lovely visit ... The entire book feels like home - the love and grace that encircle it and all the clumsiness and heartache that can be safely felt inside. This is more than a bird book. This is the respite every reader needs from the dangers of the wild. Given the chance, it will feed your soul as you build back up the courage to rejoin the larger world outside.
Although we often read books about wild animals to discover how strange they are, the best nature stories also reveal how strange we are. Ms. Zickefoose is an odd bird herself ... While deeply conversant in ornithological research, Ms. Zickefoose writes of thinking as both a scientist and a poet. Her paintings illustrating the book show those dual sides of her sensibility. She renders Jemima and other birds in anatomically accurate detail, but the scenes from her 80-acre wildlife sanctuary in southeast Ohio resonate with a storybook lyricism. Her picture of Jemima confronting a rat snake during one of the bird’s early outings beyond the house would be at home in Aesop’s Fables ... Ms. Zickefoose’s prose can be painterly, too...Other sentences betray metaphorical overreach ... That overwrought birds-as-therapy formulation notwithstanding, Saving Jemima is most memorable when it acknowledges that nature doesn’t always have an answer for personal angst, instead inviting more questions.
... a most intimate book ... readers learn not only quite a bit of blue-jay natural history, but also the tricks of wildlife rehabilitators as well as the mistakes to which Zickefoose wryly confesses. Just when Jemima reached independence, she contracted an eye disease common to house finches, and the ingenious ways the author was able to treat a free-flying bird are astounding. Mixing cute blue-jay stories with scientific facts, the author teaches readers lots of ornithology, and, by adding tales of the simultaneous turmoil her family was undergoing, she shows how nature and animals can heal heartbreak. Zickefoose has produced another hard-to-put-down winner!