It seems to me that everyone has emotional and/or physical hurdles to deal with. At one time for me, it was being too small to play football. Of course, lack of athleticism, strength, and ability to take a hit might also have had a bearing. But it led me to take up another sport I was better suited for…tennis. It helped being fast and coordinated. While I didn’t become the big man on campus in that sport like the football jocks, it gave me a lot of pleasure especially when I was part of a surprising victory in the boys’ Junior High doubles city championship team with my best friend as my partner. It was a pivotal moment in my life.
So my point is that I searched for something else when I couldn’t do what I first wanted to do. For some people these barriers are debilitating and, even though they may not seem significant, a hurdle that they cannot breach. Oscar has a serious handicap for an animal designed to fly. As in the Kirkus review of the book states “Necessity is the mother of invention, so Oscar methodologically figures out how to live life with his disability and how to survive mostly alone when the other ospreys migrate south for the winter”.
I’ve read that those who live the longest are those that are the most adaptable. Like a wing on a airplane, it must be strong but flexible enough to withstand the dynamic forces acting upon it, because if it is too rigid, it will break and bring down the aircraft. Many times Oscar was overcome by his fear and came crashing down to earth. Humankind is surrounded by constant pressures of change, but being able to adjust to the changing circumstances allows the species to survive.
Oscar represents the message for the necessity of adaptability on an individual level and how one ostracized osprey copes with his affliction. He finds answers in very ordinary ways…he learns to skim fish in order to eat, he squints to avoid the effects of his fear of heights. No miracle is involved, just simple solutions that come from adapting to difficult predicaments. The life lesson is that everyone has limits, but can rise above those limits through self-awareness, persistence and practice.
So if a child can learn that from Oscar’s story, it can help him or her throughout their entire life.