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Children's Fiction Birds

Is This Panama?

A Migration Story

by (author) Jan Thornhill

illustrated by Soyeon Kim

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
May 2014
Birds, General, Weather
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2021
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2013
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2014
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 5 to 8
  • Grade: 3 to 5


When Sammy, a young Wilson's warbler, wakes up one frosty August morning near the Arctic Circle, he instinctively knows that it's time to make his first migratory journey south to Panama. But there's one problem — where's Panama?

All the other warblers having left without him, Sammy sets off on his journey by himself, stopping to ask the same question of each of the different animals that he meets along the way: "Is this Panama?"

From the caribou heading to his winter forest to the monarch butterflies flitting to Mexico, every animal has a different destination and different advice for Sammy on how to find his way. Finally, a flock of his warbler cousins shows Sammy that finding Panama is as easy as following the stars.

Animal migration patterns and seasonal changes are on display throughout this fascinating story, complemented by intricate paper collage, watercolor, and pen-and-ink illustrations.

About the authors

Jan Thornhill is an author, illustrator and designer who brings her fascination with the natural world to her books for children. They include I Found a Dead Bird (National Parenting Publications Gold Award, Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award); The Wildlife 123 (UNICEF-Ezra Jack Keats International Award for Excellence in Children’s Book Illustration, Governor General’s Award finalist); and The Wildlife ABC (Governor General’s Award finalist). Jan recently won the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People. She spends her spare time in the woods obsessively collecting and cataloguing wild mushrooms and slime molds.

Jan Thornhill's profile page

Soyeon Kim is a Korean-born artist and educator currently living in Toronto. She is a graduate of the Visual Arts and Education programs at York University and has participated in artist residences at the Hermitage (St. Petersburg, Russia), Spark Box Studios (Picton, Ontario) and the Toronto Public Library. She has illustrated a number of children's picture books, including Once Upon an Hour, You Are Stardust, Wild Ideas, Is This Panama?, Sukaq and the Raven, You Are Never Alone and A Last Goodbye. Soyeon won the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award in 2013.


Soyeon Kim's profile page


  • Winner, Vicky Metcalf Award for author Jan Thornhill's body of work
  • Commended, Canadian Toy Testing Council's Great Book List
  • Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids and Teens, STARRED SELECTION
  • Long-listed, Canadian Children's Literature Roundtable's Information Book Award
  • Unknown, OLA Best Bets Top 10 Picture Books List, Honourable Mention
  • Long-listed, Cybils Awards, Elementary/Middle-Grade Nonfiction category

Editorial Reviews

Illustrator Soyeon Kim's artwork is picture perfect ... a dandy read-aloud and resource choice for units on animal migration.

Books For Kids Blog

"Delicate, three-dimensional illustrations combine natural materials, sketching, and painting... The pages are beautifully composed to capture the scale of the animals with Sammy providing perspective."

Student Library Journal

"Thornhill's book is a well-told, beautifully illustrated, and informative one meant to spark children's curiosity and to broaden their engagement with the world around them."

CM Magazine

"A fun survey of winter migrations."

Ithaca Child

"Thornhill nicely captures the tension created by the collision of Sammy's excitement for the mysteries surrounding his first migration with the dangers and hardships associated with the sheer exhausting length of the journey. ...Kim's gorgeous illustrations combine watercolour paintings, ink and cut-paper collages, vibrant in colour and rich in detail."

Canadian Children's Book News

"The 'fine art' illustrations are exquisite and will to be savored as much as the story."

California Kids Magazine

"Full of information, including a map of migrations routes, the book gives plenty of information about how different animals migrate to find better nesting grounds or food in addition to a good story."

Green Teacher

The beautifully illustrated double page spreads will help readers begin to understand the mystery of migration for a variety of species.

Sal's Fiction Addiction

An unusual and attractive take on a perennially absorbing topic.

Kirkus Reviews

Together, the text and images help make sense of a few of nature's curiosities. A truly educational journey.

Booklist Review

Other titles by Jan Thornhill

Other titles by Soyeon Kim

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