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Bird Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 13 years
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 720L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books; First Edition edition (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160060241X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600602412
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 7.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #734,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1–5—An urban African-American boy transcends the loss of loved ones with help from a caring elderly mentor and from the sustaining ability to create art. Bird looks back and remembers his once-admired older brother Marcus's slow descent into drug addiction, expulsion from the family home, and ultimate death—a death that ostensibly led to the decline and death of his beloved grandfather as well. Wise Uncle Son picks up where Granddad leaves off and becomes the steadying and inspiring influence in Bird's life as he learns not only the hard lesson that, "You can't fix a broken soul," but also to look to the future with confidence. Despite the plainspoken, accessible language, the author's flashback structure may not be as successful with this audience as a more linear story arc. The illustrations, rendered with a delicate touch in watercolor, gouache, charcoal, and pen, emphasize the textual theme of resilience in adversity, even while Marcus's appearances are often shrouded in a palette of grays. Bird's own pencil drawings of city life and the repetition of Marcus's symbolic bright cap add interest and meaning to the visual narrative. From a first-time author and illustrator comes a sad truth of contemporary life successfully leavened with hopeful optimism.—Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In this beautiful picture book for older readers, Elliott and Strickland tell a moving story in spare free verse and clear mixed-media pictures of an African American boy who loves to draw. At first Bird’s mentor is his older brother, Marcus, a graffiti artist. Then Marcus becomes a junkie who is eventually kicked out of their home. Drug use among family members is a reality for some young people, but it is rare to find books for the age group that reflect that experience. Marcus’ need for “a fix” and his eventual death are both handled with subtlety: “Marcus never got better. After the funeral, Granddad went to bed.” Bird’s elderly friend, Uncle Son, keeps the young artist strong and tells him a story from slavery times of the people in chains who could fly when their spirits broke free. The spacious scenes of the boy beneath birds soaring high above the city streets echoes what Bird discovers: that art can inspire, comfort, and elevate. Pair this with Virginia Hamilton’s The People Could Fly (1985). Grades 2-5. --Hazel Rochman

More About the Author

Born in Canada, Zetta Elliott moved to Brooklyn in 1994 to pursue her PhD in American Studies at NYU. Her poetry has been published in several anthologies, and her plays have been staged in New York, Chicago, and Cleveland. Her essays have appeared in Horn Book Magazine, School Library Journal, and Hunger Mountain. Her first picture book, BIRD, won the Honor Award in Lee & Low Books' New Voices Contest; it was named Best of 2008 by Kirkus Reviews, a 2009 ALA Notable Children's Book, and BIRD won the Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers. Elliott's first young adult novel, A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT, has been called "gripping," "a revelation...vivid, violent and impressive history." SHIP OF SOULS was published in February 2012; it was included in Booklist's Top Ten Sci-fi/Fantasy Titles for Youth and was a finalist for the 2013 Phillis Wheatley Award. Her latest novel, THE DEEP, was released in November 2013. Zetta Elliott is Assistant Professor in the Center for Ethnic Studies at Borough of Manhattan Community College. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

Learn more at: http://zettaelliott.com/

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Strickland's illustrations enhance the story.
DAC
Granddad told him that when he was a baby he would "cheep just like a baby bird in its nest, waiting to be fed" and so Bird seemed like a natural nickname.
D. Fowler
Both the illustration and the writing of this book stir the soul as a child grasps one of the more difficult issues of life, loss, and love.
Aisha Claire

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aisha Claire on November 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Both the illustration and the writing of this book stir the soul as a child grasps one of the more difficult issues of life, loss, and love.
Many props for the reference to the late Charlie Parker, the devotion to artistic development and expression in an impressionable child, and the loving presence of the steadfast male figures.
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Format: Hardcover
He loved to draw birds, but he wasn't called Bird because of that. Granddad told him that when he was a baby he would "cheep just like a baby bird in its nest, waiting to be fed" and so Bird seemed like a natural nickname. Bird's big brother Marcus was a really good artist and helped critique his work. Some of his big brother's best stuff ended up on walls near school, but Granddad frowned heavily on it and said it was nothing but "garbage graffiti." Art belonged in museums, not in the streets. Marcus was changing and art no longer had any meaning for him. He left school and firmly told Bird "It's not too late for you . . . " Something very scary and unusual was happening to his brother.

Bird kept drawing because an eraser could always change the picture, but he couldn't change what was happening in his life. He peeked into Marcus's room one day and saw him sprawled out on his bed in the dark, holding his stomach and folding his other arm over his eyes. He was "shaking and sweating," begging Bird not to tell their Mama. Later on he was told not to let his beloved brother into the apartment after everything was destroyed or missing one Sunday morning. Marcus did come to see Bird and he peered at him, but did not remove the chain from the door. He accepted a bird book from his brother and rushed to give him his best drawing. His eraser was not going to change what was happening to Marcus.

This was an amazing but, unfortunately, true to life story of many young people. If this book were a movie, I'd be going through a box of tissues. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking all in one. The artwork was a nice blend of Bird's work and his surroundings. It captured the emotions of the situation perfectly and could almost stand alone to tell this sad tale. This book won a New Voices Award Honor. This was a very sobering work, Zetta Elliot's first, but hopefully not her last. Stunning, stunning!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DAC VINE VOICE on April 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Mehkai goes by the name Bird, this is his journal. Each entry is a poem. A lot is going on in Bird's life. His grandfather recently passed. His older brother Marcus has become addicted to drugs. Birds writings and drawings give him the oppurtunity to heal. Bird remembers the good times he shared with his grandfather. He writes about his brothers artisic talent. Through Bird's words you can feel how much he loves his family and looked up to his older brother. Its not all happy, there is some anger and sadness. I loved Elliott's writing, the simplicity made it that much better. As I contiuned to read Bird and his family became more real. Marcus is not painted as a villian. He's lost but still loves his younger brother. Strickland's illustrations enhance the story. The illustrations allow the reader to enjoy Bird's words that much more. Many families are affected by addiction. Elliott has written a book that will enable the youngest family members to talk about their feelings. Young readers will easliy relate to Bird's words.
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