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Bird in a Box Hardcover – April 12, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Realistic fiction for tweens
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Andrea Pinkney is the author of many award-winning books for children. Many were collaborations with her husband, illustrator Brian Pinkney. She is also an editor at Scholastic. They live in Brooklyn with their two children.

Sean Qualls is the illustrator of a number of celebrated books for children, including Before John Was a Jazz Giant by Carole Boston Weatherford, for which he received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, and Dizzy by Jonah Winter, an ALA Notable Book, a Kirkus Best Book, and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. He has also illustrated Little Cloud and Lady Wind by Toni Morrison and her son Slade and Giant Steps to Change The World by Spike and Tonya Lee, which will be published in January 2011. Sean lives with his wife, illustrator Selina Alko, and their two children in Brooklyn, NY.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316074039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316074032
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,546,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Great Depression, life in an African-American orphanage in the 1930s, and the meteoric rise of the great boxer, Joe Louis, create a context to introduce three exceptional children, each of whom face challenges associated with the loss of a parent or parents. Their interactions with each other and the manner in which they address their individual challenges reflect exceptional writing and storytelling ability. There are scenes of violence, associated with orphanage life and the physical abuse of one of the children, but the redemptive nature of the full storyline lends an aura of hope at the conclusion. As someone who remembers radio days and the effect of Joe Louis on America, I hear this story ringing true historically. And as a teacher of many years, I can also say that these are real children, displaying the exceptional survival skills that many children have, despite the brutal conditions of their existence.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a really nice story, set back in the time of Joe Lewis. The main characters' lives are all affected by the famous fighter. I love the wisdom that the characters express. Ms. Pinkney is an excellent writer. As for the sale, it arrived quickly and in good condition.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great little book about three lives converging at a time and place in history. Three children that are in relative isolation are connected through a thread of boxing history. A wonderful read and a great history for children and adults.
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Format: Hardcover
This historical tale takes you back to a time when America was struggling to release itself from the devastating hold of The Great Depression. The way Pinkney infuses factual details and events of the era into the fictional storyline truly gives the story depth and importance. A must read!
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Format: Hardcover
Otis, Hibernia and Willie are three African-American 12-year olds coming of age in Depression-era upstate New York. Each has suffered a grave loss at a young age, with lives that have been tragically marred by abuse, abandonment and parental death.

Hibernia longs to be a jazz singer. But her father is a preacher and her mother is a woman who abandoned her family to chase just such ephemeral dreams of stardom. Hibernia cannot bring herself to tell her strict and imposing father that her musical aspirations encompass so much more than just singing in the church choir. Otis is a simple kid at heart, happiest when trading clever riddles with his dad and ensconced in the loving warmth of his family. However, an accident of fate changes his life horribly in an instant, leaving him an orphan. Willie is a gifted young boxer, until his abusive father puts an end to his boxing dreams and separates him from the only person who has ever loved him --- his mother.

Each of these young people remains a fighter at heart, rising above her or his individual circumstances to find hope and to dream big, much like their hero --- heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis. Hibernia, Otis and Willie come together when the boys end up living together at an orphanage in Elmira, NY, not too far from where Hibernia lives with her father, "the Reverend." At the orphanage, Willie and Otis find companionship and a shared love of Joe Louis in each other. They also take delight in playing pranks on the mean-spirited and officious man who heads the orphanage. When Hibernia and the church choir visit the orphanage to perform uplifting songs for the children there, the meeting among the three brings comfort and joy into the lives of each of them.
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Format: Hardcover
Hibernia sure can sing. She loves to belt out songs just like her mama, who left many years ago seeking to perform in the nightclubs of Harlem. Willie is a boxer. When he's sparring he pretends he's jabbing Sampson, the father who gets mean drunk and takes it out on Willie and his mama. Otis got his love of riddles from his daddy, who was always trying a new one out on his family. Now Otis dreams of riddles and tries to forget about the accident that took away his parents.

Three children in a small town in upstate New York--united by their loss, their dreams, and their hope for a Negro boxer named Joe Louis. Set in 1936 and 1937 during Louis's rise to boxing's heavyweight championship, Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney will have you pulling for Joe right along with the children and the adults in their lives. Louis brought hope to African Americans of the time. He was a highly visible representation of the fact that a black man could rise from poverty in the south and be a success. This was a considerable feat during the time of Jim Crow laws.

Louis is an inspiration to Hibernia, Willie and Otis. Listening to his boxing matches on the radio helps them forget their personal losses. Willie and Otis bunk next to each other in the orphanage. They cling to each out of necessity at first, but their friendship soon becomes tender and vital. Hibernia is the preacher's daughter, and her spunky personality chafes to be turned loose in song.

The reader gets to know each of these characters through alternating chapters of first person accounts of events that happen during a year in their lives. Profoundly touching and beautifully written, Bird in a Box is a great choice for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 9 to 12.
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