The Great Blue Heron is an elegant and peaceful creature. The same can be said for PHOEBE’S HERON, a new book set in 1900 Denver and the mountains to the west.

Young Phoebe is a girl with many worries. Her mother is sick with tuberculosis and the father has decided to move the family to a cabin in the hills. Phoebe misses her best friend and the city of Denver. Money is no problem as her father had their new cabin home specially built to give his wife a better chance of getting well.

Phoebe meets  a young boy in the wilderness and together they form a friendship. It gives the story a kind of Bridge to Terabithia feel. Jed introduces nature and the openness of the outdoors. He and his dad are not well off. They must hunt for birds and sell the feathers for women’s hats. Phoebe draws the outdoor in her sketchbook and begins to adjust being away from the big city.

Themes of conservation, differences in economic levels, and believing the voice inside you make this a tale to savor. Like Phoebe’s drawings, it’s graceful and a real pleasure to watch the story soar.



PHOEBE’S HERON, the story of 12-year-old Phoebe Greer, is set in Colorado in 1900. Her first-person narrative begins when Phoebe, her family, and Nurse Daisy, who believes the sun is stronger than any buckshot-colored cloud filled with a needle-hard rain, arrive at their new cliff-top cabin in the foothills of the Rockies. They have moved from Denver in the hope that the fresh air will heal Phoebe’s mother’s tuberculosis.

While Phoebe wants nothing more than for her mother to get well, she misses city life in Denver and her best friend Lisbeth, whose parents own Denver’s finest millinery store, where the two girls have spent hours in front of the looking-glass parading with fancy feathered hats on their heads.

Phoebe loves to draw. Her father gives her a sketchbook, and she soon meets Jed, a local boy. However, young Jed is a plume hunter, a commercial hunter of birds. He desperately wants to find a great blue heron, whose feathers were in great demand for women’s hats.

Gradually, the two youngsters become friends. Jed shows Phoebe the delights of the natural world in the Colorado Rockies, and their friendship deepens.
On her own one day, Phoebe sees a magnificent great blue heron in the creek, which she sketches in her book. But she does not tell Jed about seeing this bird. Then, Phoebe’s mother grows worse, and soon, all will change.

This is a lovely, lyrical story about discovery and friendship, and ultimately the courage to take a stand for something greater than oneself.


  1. The iconic Brown Palace Hotel is featured in a few chapters, including the afternoon tea they still have to this date.
  2. The history of the Audubon Society is hinted at throughout the book and given more detail in the afterword. It gives you an appreciation for this group and the birds across our skies we often take for granted.
  3. The writing is beautiful to behold with many passages giving you a sense of being in the story with Phoebe.
  4. Books should inspire readers, and this one pulls it off with a subtle push, engaging middle grade readers to learn more.
  5. It’s a quiet story but never slow. The pages fly by.


Father knows that Jed is my friend. He will just have to live with that. I will not choose my friends based on where they live, what they do, or how much money they have or do not have. Bigger than all those things is what’s in person’s heart, how they treat other people.

It seems that Father is a bit short-sighted when it comes to Jed.


Winnie Anderson holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. She has had stories published in various children’s magazines.

She splits her time between Baltimore, Maryland, and Evergreen, Colorado, with plans to move permanently to Colorado in 2018. (For more visit Winnie Anderson’s web site)


Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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7 Responses to PHOEBE’S HERON

  1. This one sounds perfectly lovely. Thanks for telling me about it. I hadn’t heard about it.

  2. cleemckenzie says:

    I love stories that have conservation themes for young readers. And I love herons. They are so elegant and patient.

  3. Denise V. says:

    I enjoy both nature and friendship stories so I can’t wait to read this one. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. I am glad I didn’t submit my review today — it was Phoebe Heron. Thought you had reviewed it earlier. I really enjoyed reading this novel. It just unfolds gracefully, as you commented.

  5. Andrea says:

    I’ll have to look for this one! It sounds lovely.

  6. Sue Kooky says:

    This sounds so cute! I love books that are inspired by art, and you make the book sound floaty and smooth and a light blue color (not sure why about that last one, lol.) Thank you for sharing!

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