Minnesota Historical Society

Secrets of the Loon

$ 16.95

Author Laura Purdie Salas, Author Chuck Dayton

Minnesota Historical Society Press (May 1, 2020)


Vivid depictions in words and photos illuminate the mysterious world of loons, viewed through the lens of a chick learning how to survive— and thrive—in her first year.


Watch: MNHS Storytime "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 few 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, how to avoid becoming a snack for snapping turtles, and what songs to sing and when. Moon Loon also discovers her secret skills, like how to float, how to dive, and— eventually—how to fly.

Laura Purdie Salas’s poetic recounting of a loon’s adventurous first summer celebrates the piney northern landscape and features the gradual development and occasional drama that fills Moon Loon’s days. Supplementary back matter by Chuck Dayton highlights fascinating details of loon biology and ecology, gleaned from expert sources as well as observation. Dayton spent five summers photographing loons from his kayak on a northern Minnesota lake, capturing key moments in the lives of these iconic birds.

Combining imaginative language and striking photography, Secrets of the Loon introduces readers to the sights, sounds, and survival strategies of Minnesota’s state bird.

WATCH the book trailer!

WATCH more loon photos by Chuck Dayton

Author information

Laura Purdie Salas has written more than 130 books for kids, including Animal Babies and Their Families; Water Can Be . . . ; and Snowman – Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations.

As an environmental lawyer, Chuck Dayton protected the landscapes and animals he now observes, camera in hand.

Reviews and news

Kirkus Reviews

Winner of the 2021 Riverby Award

Bank Street Best Children's Books of 2021

KUMD MN Reads with Chuck Dayton

Blog: Wrapped in Foil

Blog: Jena Benton

Blog: Live Your Poem

Blog: Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Blog: Sierra Club North Star Chapter by Chuck Dayton

Blog: Today's Little Ditty/Classroom Connection

Blog: Reflections on the Teche

Blog: Write Time

Blog: Teacher Dance

Listening Point Foundation Newsletter p. 7

Related resources

Free Activity Sheets on author Laura Purdie Salas's website

WATCH the book trailer

WATCH more loon photos by Chuck Dayton

LISTEN to Loon Calls


  • 32 pages
  • Fully illustrated
  • 8 x 10 inches
  • ISBN: 9781681341583

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